Health Information Exchanges: Patients Must Be Convinced

While health information exchanges (HIEs) have the potential to save Americans millions of healthcare dollars, getting these patient data-sharing services up and running has become a tangled web of regulations, conflicting IT standards, and provider resistance.

They also face a significant challenge when it comes to getting patient buy-in. The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives’ guide to HIEs outlines two approaches that providers can use to obtain patient consent, namely opt in or opt out. Regardless of which approach your organization uses, it needs to be sensitive to the public’s fears.

As I mentioned in my last column, the public is afraid that their medical data won’t be safe. And given the number of data breaches in the news recently, you can certainly understand their concerns.

But those breaches tell only part of the story. And the rest needs to be told if the health IT community ever hopes to convince people to let HIEs use their personal data.

The federal government spends a great deal of money in professional journals hoping to convince health professionals of health IT’s value. It’s time to direct some of that cash at the general public. A PR campaign aimed at consumers will likely ease their security concerns, but only if it’s deftly handled.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT, for instance, could run ads in People, Self, Parade, and similar consumer magazines, or on healthcare websites like,, or, talking up how digitizing a person’s medical information would speed medical treatment and help protect a patient from harm by maintaining details on medications, allergies, and medical issues.

via InformationWeek Government, continued here.