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New England HIE Collaboration Enables Regional Interoperability

The HIE collaboration between Maine’s HealthInfoNet, The Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI), and Vermont’s VITL aims to boost regional interoperability for better care coordination.

HealthInfoNet, the statewide health information exchange (HIE) in Maine, joined an HIE collaboration with The Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI) and VITL (Vermont), which is set to boost regional interoperability across each of the New England communities they serve, according to a reporting from Vermont Business Magazine.

The collaboration marks a significant commitment to building a regional interoperable ecosystem that can improve population health, reduce healthcare costs, and enhance patient care throughout each community, wrote Vermont Business Magazine.

The three organizations’ agreement to collaborate as independent organizations makes this alliance stand out in comparison to other HIE consortiums in the country, stated HealthInfoNet.

“This collaboration comes at a critical moment in healthcare,” Shaun Alfreds, chief executive officer and executive director at HealthInfoNet, said in a public statement.

“Coming out of the pandemic, interoperability efforts have shown enormous value. Our three states have innovated and persevered in support of patients and providers,” Alfreds continued. “Bringing our unique teams and skills together now will allow us to not only build upon previous successes but magnify our impact on both public and private health reforms in our states and region.”

The HIE infrastructure will prioritize enabling interstate health data exchange that enhances regional interoperability.

However, the organizations will also focus extensively on expanding innovation and deployment of health information services for their communities and increasing operational efficiencies.

By advancing regional interoperability, the HIEs aim to explore innovative methods that can make patient health data available to clinicians regardless of the area in which the patient resides.

Improving the delivery of patient-centered care through seamless data-sharing may be able to surface health information about patients who have been historically marginalized and who live in the most rural parts of New England, the organizations stated.

“We know that health and healthcare doesn’t stop at state lines, and patients want their health data to be available at all the places they receive care,” said Beth Anderson, president and chief executive officer at VITL. “VITL’s new collaboration with HealthInfoNet and Rhode Island Quality Institute will help us better serve patients and their clinicians by building more comprehensive records that include the care patients access across New England.”

Through the agreement, the organizations will be required to share their expertise with one another openly, wrote Vermont Business Magazine.

The HIEs plan to leverage each other’s existing infrastructure and expertise to enhance their offerings within their home state. This will reduce the amount of financial and staff investment the HIEs would have to spend on redundant technologies; instead the HIEs will be able to focus their efforts on curating their diverse data assets into actionable insights.

Lastly, the collaboration expects to benefit from increased organizational efficiencies, most notably in the areas of shared staffing and joint purchasing.

As seen in recent years, more HIEs are paving the way for greater interoperability.

In June of 2021, Equality Health partnered with three of the five regional health information exchanges (HIEs) in Texas to advance regional interoperability and care coordination.

Through this partnership, the organizations aimed to bolster provider access to real-time data needed for high-quality care.

“Our partnerships with Greater Houston Healthconnect, PHIX, and Rio Grande Valley HIE allows providers to leverage our VBC technology to improve outcomes for patients in those respective regions of Texas,” Craig Gaites, president of Equality Health’s Texas market, said in a public statement.

Editor's Note: This article has been corrected to reflect that the organizations have no plans to build a regional HIE. 

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