Health Information Exchange Basics

Health Information Exchange Basics

For many of us, Health Information Exchange (HIE) has been a hot topic. HIE has been mentioned in articles, podcasts, trainings, and for some us, as a topic of everyday conversation. In this article we will provide answers to some common questions about HIE: What is HIE? Is HIE a Meaningful Use requirement? What are the benefits of HIE?

What is HIE?

Health Information Exchange (HIE) is the transmission of healthcare-related data among facilities, health information organizations and government agencies, according to national standards for interoperability, security and confidentiality. Electronic health information exchange (HIE) allows doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health care providers and patients to appropriately access and securely share a patient's vital medical information electronically.

Think of HIE in terms of sending information or receiving information. For example, in directed exchange, providers can securely send patient information directly to another health care professional. In a query-based exchange, providers can search and discover accessible clinical information by obtaining (receiving) a patient's medical record.

Is HIE a Meaningful Use requirement?

To participate in Meaningful Use, physician practices are not required to be part of a health information exchange. However, providers will have to make information available for exchange as part of Stage 2 Meaningful Use. For example, for Stage 2 Meaningful Use Core Objectives for Eligible Professionals (EP), objective 15 includes the following measure:

"The EP who transitions or refers their patient to another setting of care or provider of care provides a summary of care record for more than 10 percent of such transitions and referrals either (a) electronically transmitted using CEHRT to a recipient or (b) where the recipient receives the summary of care record via exchange facilitated by an organization that is a NwHIN Exchange participant or in a manner that is consistent with the governance mechanism ONC establishes for the NwHIN."

NwHIN: Nationwide Health Information Network also referred to as eHealth Exchange

What are the benefits of HIE?

Electronic health information exchange has several benefits. Some of these benefits include:

  • Avoid readmissions
  • Avoid medication errors
  • Improve diagnoses
  • Decrease duplicate testing
  • Engage healthcare consumers regarding their own personal health information
  • Improve public health reporting and monitoring
  • Reduce health related costs


HIE is a valuable resource because it allows healthcare professionals and patients to readily access and share vital medical information electronically. While there might be some hiccups occasionally, HIE improves the speed, quality, safety and cost of patient care when used properly.

If you have any additional questions about HIE please do not hesitate to contact one of our professional consultants.