These days, the number of active health information exchanges is actually mounting, and it seems they’re in much better financial shape than the previous generation of projects. And in what may be another sign of maturity, the HIEs are defaulting to a rather short list of tried vendors, though no single vendor dominates the market.
For several years, HIEs have been mostly talk, and many have risen only to fall again, largely because their business models didn’t work. But these days, the number of HIEs in operation is climbing again — this time sustainably, in my view — and hospitals are putting HIE connectivity at the forefront of their strategic plans.
According to Jason Hess, research executive vice president for KLAS, the HIE market is accelerating, though most of the growth is on the private side.
Hess, who spoke at the CHIME11 Fall CIO Forum last week, noted that the number of private HIEs have increased from 62 to 161 since 2009, one of the bigger jumps this editor has seen in several years. Meanwhile, the number of public HIEs has grown from 37 to 67 since 2009, he said.
Perhaps more interestingly, a short list of vendors seem to have figured out how to deliver the package of services hospitals and doctors want. I say this because according to one industry expert, 70 percent of HIEs use one of ten vendor technologies, while 25 vendors serve the remaining 30 percent.
According to unrelated research from the eHealth Initiative, Axolotl (now OptumInsight) is top HIE vendor to date, serving 22 of the 255 HIEs currently operating in the U.S. A close second is Medicity, which is used for 14 HIEs, followed by Cerner and Mirth, both of which serve nine HIEs.
You won’t be surprised to hear that big guns like GE, Microsoft and IBM are lingering around the fringes, and have by no means given up on the market. If I were an IT exec with a large hospital, and wanted to create my own HIE, I might go to one of them rather than the established players. Why? Because they still need to make their mark and may actually be more accommodating than the more established HIE vendors. (I admit that’s just a hunch though.)
Anyway, much worth looking at going on in the HIE world, and I suspect it will get more interesting over time. I’ll keep you posted.