Health information exchanges (HIEs) have been undergoing a powerful rebrand in the past year or two – the simple data transfer networks of yesterday are starting to show up to the conversation as complex health data utilities (HDUs) that bring a wider range of valuable offerings and capabilities to the table, more than just the foundational exchange of health information that has been their claim to fame.

For many HIEs, the COVID-19 public health emergency was the scene in the makeover movie where the homely lead character takes off her glasses and lets her hair down and suddenly everyone sees what a knockout she is. This worn-out premise may sound far-fetched, but it is not completely unrealistic. HIEs have been here for a while now, unassumingly building out impactful services and functionalities that benefit public health agencies, health care providers, and patients alike. However, it wasn’t until we took off our glasses (i.e., rapidly stood up COVID dashboards and analytics visualizations) and let down our hair (i.e., mobilized entire networks of participants to share vital new data elements like bed count and equipment inventory) for the big dance (i.e., the global pandemic) that HIEs really started to get the attention they were due.

HIEs across the country are taking advantage of this moment of attention by having meaningful conversations with federal and state policymakers, legislators, and agency leadership to showcase the promise of health data utilities and advocate for necessary infrastructure investment and support.

That is what makes the research project highlighted in this On Demand session so timely. In this session, David Horrocks and Laura Young present an overview of the research they conducted along with Lisa Bari on how each state currently governs, engages, and promotes the HIE(s) supporting their state. The classifications presented in this session offer clear and straightforward ways to categorize and describe any given state’s interactions with the HIE(s) serving their population.

As you watch:
I encourage employees and stakeholders of HIE organizations to identify which classification bucket they currently fall into, which buckets they would ideally want to fall into (if different), and which buckets they used to fall into (if different).

Recognize the factors that allowed for any past shifts in classification and think through what factors would allow for any desired future shifts.

After you watch:

How do you currently present your organization to potential partners, stakeholders, advocates, legislators, funders, etc.? Can you succinctly paint the picture of your organization’s relationship with the state and give context for it at the national level?

How can you use the classifications presented in this session to simplify and clarify how you describe or explain what your organization does and its relationship with the state and public health?

This post was contributed by Terri Pohl, Cync Health.