Mar 22, 2023

Let’s Discuss Different Types of Health Information Exchange

Let's discuss different types of Health Information Exchange

Health information exchange (HIE) is the building block of a patient-focused approach to healthcare. It helps improve the efficiency, quality, cost-effectiveness, and safety of health care delivery. To be able to receive these benefits, you need to select the right technology solution. You can choose from federal, state, or private HIE vendors, but the number of choices can be bewildering. So we have put together this extensive guide to help you understand the basic types of HIE technology.

What is Health Information Exchange or HIE?

It’s a technology solution that enables healthcare organizations and providers to exchange patient information electronically between unconnected systems. In simple words, it is a data clearinghouse among many clinical systems. Every system that sends or receives data on an HIE has to follow a data standard to ensure correct formatting, which also reinforces interoperability.

HIEs help alleviate the complexities that stand in the way of delivery and coordination of care.

Some key benefits it offers are:

  • Every person participating in a patient’s care works from the same information.
  • It helps prevent costly and potentially dangerous errors.
  • Health outcomes are improved, and costs are reduced.
  • It makes the entire process of health care more efficient.
  • There is no need to fill out repetitive forms.
  • Specialists or providers can have health information prior to a patient’s visit.
  • It allows for the direct-to-consumer delivery of appointment reminders and follow-up instructions. Medical supply orders and prescriptions can be delivered directly to the pharmacy or surgical supply stores.
  • It reduces incorrect diagnoses, medication mistakes, and other medical errors.
  • Patients can track their care and have a say in their own care.
  • It eliminates unnecessary or redundant testing.
  • Improves the monitoring and reporting of public health information
  • Healthcare practitioners and researchers can effectively and quickly provide one another the necessary feedback.
  • It helps create a technical support infrastructure to benefit from relevant state and national initiatives.
  • It brings down overall healthcare costs.
  • It allows for more efficient interoperability with EHRs.
  • Patient data can be uniformly integrated into the individual practice’s EHR.

With so many benefits, it’s easy to see why HIEs are so prevalent in today’s healthcare landscape.


Let’s now go through the three types of health data exchanges.

Directed Exchange:

Directed exchange is used by providers to securely and effortlessly send patient information directly to other healthcare professionals. Information such as patient referrals, laboratory orders and results, or discharge summaries is exchanged over the internet in an encrypted, reliable, and secure way amongst health care professionals. The information exchange which occurs this way enables coordinated care, benefitting both patients and healthcare providers.

For example:

When referring patients, primary care providers can directly send electronic care summaries containing patients’ problems, medications, and lab results to specialists. This keeps the specialists well informed and prevents the redundant collection of information from the patient, duplication of tests, wasted visits, and medication errors.

Who can benefit?

Healthcare providers and stakeholders who benefit from a directed exchange type of HIE include- clinicians, laboratories, non-clinical staff, non-clinical staff, local health departments, non-clinical staff, and registry or quality reporting organizations.

This category of HIE is also being used to report quality measures to The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) or for sending immunization data to public health organizations.

Why is this so important in today’s times?

As per HIPAA rules, electronic health information exchange must ensure the confidentiality, technical safety, and integrity of patient information. As a provider, if you want to communicate securely, quickly, and accurately without violating HIPAA policies, then you may want to make sure important health information is sent to the HIE.

Query-Based Exchange:

With this type of exchange, providers can find and “pull” information on a patient from other providers. The providers use this form of HIE when not much is known about a patient, such as in an emergency situation. These types of HIEs are also used by providers when they expect to find new information in patient records.

For example:

A medic may request pregnancy records for a pregnant woman who goes into labor while at a different location.

To make this query resource valuable, the provider must serve up the correct information, at the right time, to the right person, using the right channel in the clinical workflow.

Consumer Mediated Exchange:

Through the consumer-mediated exchange, patients can aggregate and manage their health information on the internet securely and efficiently. With this utilization of HIE, consumers can transfer data between providers, correct inaccurate medical, demographic, or billing information, and track their own health.

This type of information exchange has historically been very hard to implement. But, today, with the advancements in technology, patients can participate actively in the coordination of their own health care. They can:

  • Provide vital health information to other providers.
  • Find and fix inaccurate or missing information
  • Track their own health care

Active patient participation increases their satisfaction and accuracy of care.

How to Start Implementing HIE in Your Practice

To join an HIE or build it for your own practice, you need to perform the following readiness assessment:

  • Identify and recruit the stakeholders in your practice, including the management team, IT director, and compliance officer.
  • Identify your current security and privacy concerns.
  • Use this guide to identify the use cases for HIE within your system.
  • Evaluate your current operational environment and accordingly develop goals for implementing the HIE.
  • Determine the cost and return on investment related to each use case.


HIE can never replace vital provider-patient communication, but it serves as the backbone for keeping patient health records accurate and complete, especially in today’s healthcare environment that usually involves multiple providers and specialists. As this format of digital health and care becomes more widespread, the healthcare sector will hopefully become safer, streamlined, and less costly.


Related Posts