The Arizona REC and HIE at EHR Summit

While attending the EHR Summit by HBMA, I got the chance to learn more about the AZ REC and HIE. Here are some tweets about the things they said that worth noting with my own comments:

Arizona REC

AZ REC had trouble getting vendors to take their free EHR interns. #EHRSummit11

This was pretty interesting since they said that doctors were more than willing to take on their student interns, but vendors were reticent to take them on. I do love the education program that the AZ REC put together. Internships like this are valuable.

Biggest complaint the HIT students had was access to actual EHR software. AZ REC created a EHR software lab to solve it. #EHRSummit11

This is a really common complaint by the RECs. In fact, I just helped a REC get access to some EHR software to solve this problem. It’s amazing to me that more EHR vendors aren’t happy to provide their software for these education programs.

AZ REC has a list serv of 2500 doctors and a list for vendors. See: #EHRSummit11

I found it interesting that they had a doctor list and a vendor list. Makes sense.

AZ REC looking at optimizing health IT for ACO’s to be sustainable. I think this will be a common strategy. #EHRSummit11

The idea of REC sustainability is an important one. I think many are looking towards the ACO requirements as one pathway to sustainability. Of course, how stable are ACO’s? One thing seems certain, the relationships the RECs create with doctors could be leveraged for good if done right.

Arizona HIE

The case for the benefits of good information from something like a HIE is easy. The problem is making it actually happen. #EHRSummit11

This was my gut response when the AZ HIE was talking about the benefits of having the information an HIE provides. I don’t think I’ve heard anyone say that exchanging information would be a bad thing and produce worse clinical outcomes. Sure, they want to ensure privacy of the data when it’s done, but the benefits of having the best information are completely apparent.

HINAz (AZ HIE) didn’t depend on grants to create the HIE. They focused on the benefits of the HIE to users. #EHRSummit11

This seems like something that’s a bit unique to AZ. Most HIE’s are so focused on the grant funding. In this sense, I think that this might give the AZ HIE a chance to be successful. Plus, I loved that they did actual research into which users benefited from the HIE.

AZ HIE, Hospitals pay 50% of costs, Plans pay 50% of costs. Physicians pay nominal fee to participate (cause nominal benefit). #EHRSummit11

This is where the real fun begins. The hospitals and plans are paying for the HIE since the AZ HIE found that they’re the ones that would benefit from it. They found that doctors received nominal benefits from using the HIE and so they shouldn’t be charged to use it. Of course, the other beneficiaries not mentioned here is the benefit to the patients. I’m sure hospitals and plans will pass the cost on to patients, so I guess that works out in the end.

About the author

John Lynn

John Lynn

John Lynn is the Founder of, a network of leading Healthcare IT resources. The flagship blog, Healthcare IT Today, contains over 13,000 articles with over half of the articles written by John. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 20 million times.

John manages Healthcare IT Central, the leading career Health IT job board. He also organizes the first of its kind conference and community focused on healthcare marketing, Healthcare and IT Marketing Conference, and a healthcare IT conference,, focused on practical healthcare IT innovation. John is an advisor to multiple healthcare IT companies. John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can be found on Twitter: @techguy.


  • Not too surprised that the the EMR vendors do not want to give out access to their software. The big question is: why? Is it that they are concerned that their software will be found to be less desirable compared with others? Or is it something else? One this is certain: there’s a real reason.

  • “The hospitals and plans are paying for the HIE since the AZ HIE found that they’re the ones that would benefit from it. They found that doctors received nominal benefits from using the HIE and so they shouldn’t be charged to use it.”

    Since EMRs deployed to primary care physician offices provide the initial input of the source data networked by HIE … the analysis of who benefits from HIE by AZ HIE makes it pretty obvious that hospitals and plans then ought to be paying physicians for the data they input into the network … as well as the EMRs in physician offices.

  • Further dialog on the viability of HIEs from Anthony Guerra on 23 Nov on

    The vast majority (92 percent) of CIOs say local, state, regional and national HIE initiatives are duplicating efforts/work, according to the November SnapSurvey. As such, it’s not surprising more than 60 percent describe their state’s HIE situation as a “confused mess.”

    A large portion of the blame for such a state of affairs falls on ONC, with none describing the organization’s leadership in this area as “very good” and only 3.8 percent finding it “good.” The largest response when answering this question (46 percent) termed ONC’s work “not so good.”

    When asked about the technical side of HIE — referring specifically to standards — the CIO community is split, with 23 percent answering that the standards are ready, 38 percent prognosticating they will be ready within two years, and another 38 percent saying even two years isn’t enough time.

    Finally, in what will likely be good news for proponents of HIE, almost 70 percent say they are, or will be, exchanging patient information with a health system that could be described as a “direct competitor.”

    Following the above text breakdown on each survey question with responder specific comments.

    Not sure what the value of EMRs are … if the HIE they are plugged into don’t work or go out of business when the grant money dries up.

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