In a recent study, researchers from the Indiana University Richard M. Fairbanks School of Public Health – Indianapolis identified seven health information exchange (HIE) research challenges that can be used to inform strategies for higher quality scientific evidence.
[Photo: Dr. Valerie Yeager]
Only a small number of HIE studies have demonstrated benefits to patients, providers, public health, or payers. Knowing this, associate professors of health policy and management, Drs. Valerie Yeager and Joshua Vest provide a systematic identification of HIE research challenges in their study, “Challenges to Conducting Health Information Exchange Research and Evaluation: Reflections and Recommendations for Examining the Value of HIE.”
[Photo: Dr. Joshua Vest]
They worked with colleagues to conduct qualitative interviews with HIE researchers and leaders representing more than 20 different HIEs. They also conducted a six-person focus group to expand on and confirm individual interview findings, followed by a qualitative analysis.
The study found that participants experienced similar challenges across seven themes, including HIE maturity, data quality, data availability, goal alignment, cooperation, methodology, and policy.
Because electronic health records (EHRs) and HIEs were not designed for evaluation purposes, vendors have difficulty pulling specific data sets, Dr. Yeager explained in a recent Healthcare Informatics article about this study.
In the same article, Dr. Vest shared that some regional health information organizations he’s worked with in New York state have mandated evaluation and research as part of their grants, but not every agency funding HIE development makes those requirements.
Drs. Yeager and Vest believe that developing better conceptual models and methodological approaches to HIE research, building formal partnerships between researchers and HIE entities, and establishing a nationwide database of HIE information may improve HIE research. They also propose the approach of promoting data availability, resource sharing, and new partnerships to help overcome existing barriers, and facilitate HIE research.