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HIEs Join SHIEC To Enhance Health Interoperability, Collaboration

SHIEC’s three newest HIE members from Connecticut, South Carolina, and Montana aim to improve patient outcomes through expanded interoperability.

The Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) announced that three new state HIE members have joined the organization to boost care coordination, interoperability, and industry collaboration in an effort to improve patient outcomes. 

SHIEC’s newest members include the Connecticut Health Information Exchange (Connie), Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC), and Big Sky Care Connect of Montana.

According to SHIEC, membership has increased by 8.5 percent in recent months.

“Ninety-five percent of the US population is served by America’s health information exchanges (HIEs) which are SHIEC members,” said Lisa Bari, SHIEC interim CEO, in the press release. “These new members show that HIEs are growing and serving more and more people at the regional, state, and local levels.”

HIEs advance interoperability by ensuring that patient records are available through all of the top EHR systems to community partners such as pharmacies, labs, behavioral health centers, dialysis centers, and state and federal agencies. Additionally, HIEs ensure patient data access to school nurses, first responders, blood banks, and substance abuse treatment centers.

As the industry continues to shift towards value-based care delivery, HIEs serve as a way for healthcare organizations to boost care coordination and patient data exchange with a wide array of community partners.

“At its center, Connie is about patients receiving the best possible healthcare, providing continuity in medical information, and providing secure, timely treatment for Connecticut residents,” Jennifer Searls, executive director of Connie, said in the press release. “We’re excited to join the SHIEC network to collaborate and learn from other HIEs nationwide to bring best practices and services to Connecticut.”

SHIEC’s advocacy efforts will ensure that the three new members’ needs are presented in nationwide healthcare conversations surrounding critical topics such as health IT and patient data exchange.

Furthermore, HIEs foster collaboration between healthcare stakeholders. Kenneth R. Deans Jr., president and chief executive officer of Health Sciences South Carolina (HSSC), noted that joining the HIE collaborative will aid HSSC in efficiently tackling public health goals.

“Established in 2004 as the nation's first statewide biomedical and bioinformatics research collaborative of its type, we are committed to transforming public health and economic well-being through clinical research, population health, quality, and data exchange initiatives across the Carolinas and beyond,” Deans said.

“Becoming a member of SHIEC helps us engage and collaborate with others nationwide to do so much more quickly and efficiently,” he continued.

Montana’s statewide HIE, Big Sky Care Connect, was launched in December 2020 to promote interoperability across the state.

Implementing an HIE improves patient health data exchange, which is critical in a rural state like Montana where individuals often must travel far distances to receive care.

“It hasn't taken the HIE long to really ramp up its client list,” Randy Thompson, chief health analytics officer at Billings Clinic and a member of Big Sky Care Connect, told EHRIntelligence in a March 2021 interview. “We've really been waiting for this functionality to be reality and now that it’s here, we're all excited that we're a lot closer than before.”

Now, Big Sky Care Connect has expanded its interoperability capabilities even further by joining SHIEC, effectively opening the HIE up to collaboration opportunities and patient data exchange with HIEs and other partners across the country, not just within the state.

With the three new additions, SHIEC’s membership has exceeded 80 HIE organizations across the country. Membership is expected to continue to rise among HIEs that are looking to improve the health outcomes of their communities through secure patient data exchange as the industry shifts to value-based care delivery.

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