Connecting Your EHR to the HIE: Decoded

Date: April 13th, 2011Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, EHRs

With the proper deployment and adoption of health information exchange (HIE), a health care landscape that was once fragmented can transition to a powerful network focused on quality, safety and efficiency. Now is the time to embrace data exchange, and here are a few simple steps to keep in mind on your road to connecting to the HIE.

Contact Your EHR Vendor

CORHIO recommends that physician practices contact their EHR vendor right away to explore the process of HIE integration. To connect to the HIE, your EHR needs to be specially configured by your vendor-most vendors refer to this service as "building an interface." Since unprecedented numbers of providers are investing in health IT, EHR vendors are experiencing delays and waiting lists of up to three months long to perform the necessary configurations.

This waiting period is a perfect opportunity to research the technical aspects and implications of HIE connection. First, we suggest upgrading your EHR to its most current version to help facilitate a smooth implementation process.

Research EHR Integration Costs

It is also important to research the costs involved with connecting to the HIE. If your EHR is on CO-REC's approved product list, your vendor has agreed to offer preferred pricing to all Colorado providers. If your product is not on CO-REC's list, we encourage you to negotiate for no-cost or low-cost integration services.

It is worth noting that EHR vendors can charge additional fees to build an "integration interface," the back-end programming that allows data to flow to and from the HIE. To help you get the information you need from your vendor, CORHIO has developed an HIE Connectivity Worksheet (PDF) with questions you can ask.

Project Coordination

Prior to connecting to the HIE, it is also helpful to identify who in your practice will become the office expert on EHR integration. On average, that person should expect to spend about 20 hours coordinating the project from start to finish.

The time invested during the implementation process is far outweighed by the benefits of HIE, which include streamlined administrative processes, efficient communication and the ability to easily locate and aggregate vital patient-specific information.

These initial steps provide a basic outline for preparing your organization for HIE. The average patient in the U.S. sees over 15 different doctors during their lifetime, so the flow of patient information between providers is vital to their health. And, HIE will help you and your office staff reduce the hassles of exchanging multiple phone calls, faxes and paperwork for patient information between multiple provider offices. The CORHIO HIE offers Colorado the chance to positively transform its health care marketplace through increased communication and collaboration.


Please contact CORHIO if you aren't receiving the information you need from your EHR vendor about data exchange or interfaces. We may be able to advocate for your practice by utilizing our many EHR industry contacts.