Today, I attended a forum at HIMSS 10 where I heard a representative from a small state talk about their plans for an HIE. They’ve already introduced some legislation that will allow people in their state to opt out of having their information stored in an HIE. She referred to it as a framework for HIE. Unfortunately, a framework doesn’t deal with issues like how you’d actually allow people to opt out of an HIE. Would you just discard the person’s data that’s sent from their doctor’s EMR? Not to mention, would the patient have the option to opt out at the doctors office or would they have to know they need to go to the government page to opt out?
These items aside, I was even more interested in trying to dive into the funding for an HIE in that state. I asked the representative whether the state would be able to fund a state HIE or if they would need federal money or some sort of private partnership.
Her answer was simple. Basically, her state (which might be different in other states) didn’t have the money to be able to fund an HIE. She thought that the most likely option would be some sort of private partnership which would make an HIE in her state a reality.
The HIMSS representative then talked about how the HITECH act has provided what amounts to seed money for states to be able to establish HIE. Unfortunately, this is just seed money and not a sustainable way to run an HIE. It’s like they’re just throwing some seed money out there and hoping that someone will figure out some creative way to have a sustainable revenue model for an HIE. Without this type of sustainable revenue model, then the HIE will start to disappear the way RHIO have basically disappeared.