Physicians, Patients Should Demand Data To Bolster HIE, ONC Says


Clinicians and patients can help create a demand for health information exchange by asking for relevant medical information whenever care decisions are being made, according to an article published in journal Health Affairs, InformationWeek reports.

The article was written by National Coordinator for Health IT Farzad Mostashari and colleagues at the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT.

Article Details

In the article, Mostashari and colleagues write, "No investment in standards or infrastructure for information exchange will rapidly mobilize information sharing if the underlying demand for the shared information is low," adding, "Demand for information is the business driver for health information exchange."

The authors continued, "Sharing information to coordinate care -- where information is sent and received between providers, such as a referral from a physician to a specialist -- can build demand for, and trust required to support, other exchange models that involve aggregating and finding patient data."

Gaps in Information Exchange

The article also aims to expand on the five-year Federal Health Information Technology Strategic Plan released in November 2011 (Versel, InformationWeek, 3/12).

The authors note that ONC this year plans to "address three additional gaps" in advancing health information exchange "across organizational and vendor boundaries."

The gaps involve:

  • Provider directories;
  • Certificate discovery and management; and
  • Health information exchange governance (Williams et al., Health Affairs, March 2012).


Al Davis
The flaw in Dr. Mostasahri's plan to stimulate data demand is the lack of incentive. Most patients perceive health care as "free", or nearly so, at the point of care. Given the (apparent) value of "free" services, patients have no incentive to bother with requesting and understanding all the data available to them - there are too many competing priorities for one's attention. Our system of "health insurance" - government and private - is in fact "pre-paid" health care. Since it is pre-paid, patients have no more incentive to shop for health care than they do to check out competitors' coffee prices when they want to use a coffee shop gift card. The government wants patients to be proactive health care consumers, but their policies, including the nearly unfathomable repression of the high-deductible insurance/HSA plans set forth on the PPACA, drive patients to be passive acceptors of their care.

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