Interoperability and Health Information Exchange

Informatics Specialty Area and Interoperability

The concept of interoperability in health information systems is used to describe the extent to which systems may exchange and interpret healthcare data. Interoperability has become especially important due to the proliferation of the electronic health record (EHR) implementation. Creating one standard interoperability format for exchanging data would allow several EHR systems to share and then use medical information (Reisman, 2017).

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However, the lack of standardized data is a major challenge that limits the interoperability of health care facilities. Electronic health information exchange (HIE) is the movement of health information electronically among health care stakeholders.

HIE allows different health care groups, in particular, doctors, nurses, medical device vendors, and ancillary groups to access and share the information from a patient’s EHR. The growing need for nationwide interoperability and enhanced health data exchange has increased the use of HIE. The given paper examines and outlines the risks associated with health data exchange with other partners. Also, the marketing approach that could be taken in order to encourage health care vendors to exchange data is proposed.

The inability of health care providers to implement HIE may result in an increase in medical errors and health care costs. According to Hussain, Rivers, Stewart, and Munchus (2015), the lack of standardization in health information technology may result in healthcare costs accounting for 20% of GDP. Even though HIE is mostly associated with an improvement in the quality and safety of health care services, it is important to discuss the risks of exchanging data (Esmaeilzadeh & Sambasivan, 2017). There are legal, safety, and security issues that may cause complications in obtaining coordination among stakeholders (Park et al., 2013). These challenges may be explained by a number of different stakeholders in the health care system involved in the data exchange.

Speaking of the security concerns posed by HIE, it should be mentioned that not all the groups may encrypt protected health information. Despite the fact that encryption ensures that all personal medical information is protected from security attacks, it has yet to become obligatory for health care facilities to encrypt data. Therefore, if not all health care groups encode health information, patients’ medical data may become vulnerable to several threats, in particular, its unauthorized disclosure.

Another security risk is attributable to health information being accessed via personal mobile devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or USB drives. The vulnerability of unencrypted mobile devices may lead to medical data breaches. Since many health care providers allow access not only for viewing information but also for download and storage, there is a considerable risk of health data being hacked and stolen. Some health care providers may host EHRs and patient portals on remote cloud servers that are to be accessible for all the groups. However, it may be a challenge to keep information from different tenants separate and inaccessible from one another.

The more groups are involved in health information exchange, the more vulnerable this process may become. If incorrect medical data is entered at the initial stage, this may have severe implications for all the health care stakeholders. Also, one may note that patients’ desire to decide which kind of information should be exchanged may result in people being reluctant to give their personal information due to confidentiality concerns.

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Even though one may note that there is a compelling need for federal intervention to encourage healthcare vendors to exchange data, this may not be the final solution to a problem. According to Yaraghi (2018), the US government has spent $35 billion so as to promote the implementation of the EHR systems. However, healthcare vendors who utilize the EHR still appear to exchange health information sparingly.

One may assume that it is unlikely to enable interoperability without creating business incentives. The proposed marketing approach aimed at encouraging health care vendors to exchange data involves legalizing exchange fees.

Currently, HIPAA and HITECH acts do not support fees for the exchange of medical data, though this could resolve the problem of information blocking. One may note that legalizing exchange fees would encourage providers and EHR vendors to become more willing to share data with other healthcare facilities. Such a marketing approach would enable to unleash business incentives for information exchange and allow patients to access and transmit their medical data easily.

To sum up, in the given essay, the concepts of interoperability and health information exchange have been discussed. It has been explained that HIE plays a key role in interoperability, as it allows different stakeholders to access medical data.

The risks associated with exchanging data with other groups include the unauthorized disclosure of confidential information, medical errors, and the impossibility to keep information from different tenants separate from one another. One more risk related to the use of HIE by different groups is the competition among groups that results in poor information exchange that complicates the process of care. In the paper, the marketing approach of legalizing exchange fees in order to encourage health care vendors to share medical information has been proposed.


Esmaeilzadeh, P., & Sambasivan, M. (2017). Patients’ support for health information exchange: A literature review and classification of key factors. BMC Medical Informatics and Decision Making, 17(1). Web.

Hussain, A., Rivers, P., Stewart, L., & Munchus, G. (2015). Health information exchange: Current challenges and impediments to implementing national health information infrastructure. The Journal of Health Care Finance, 42(1), 1-7.

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Park, H., Lee, S., Kim, Y., Heo, E., Lee, J., Park, J. H., & Ha, K. (2013). Patients’ perceptions of a health information exchange: A pilot program in South Korea. International Journal of Medical Informatics, 82(2), 98-107. Web.

Reisman, M. (2017). EHRs: The challenge of making electronic data usable and interoperable. P&T, 42(9), 572-575.

Yaraghi, N. (2018). To advance health information exchange, we need a health IT consortium. Brookings. Web.

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