How to Choose Your HIE

How to Choose Your HIE

Choosing an HIE system is a major decision and investment, and determining what to consider during this process can be daunting.

Here at MD Buyline we believe one of the most important factors in this process will be market stability.  Although HIE organizations have become a vital part of healthcare today, there is some inherent variability, as with any emerging market. With HIEs this has mostly been related to acquisitions, and we’ve seen several happen over the last few years. Just to give you an example, OptumInsight acquired Axolotl in 2010, followed by Aetna purchasing Medicity in 2011. That same year, Siemens’ acquisition of MobileMD gave it an HIE presence.  Then, in 2012 Caradigm was formed as a joint venture between GE Healthcare and Microsoft Corporation and Infor finalized its merger with Lawson, which included the Cloverleaf interface engine product.

Most recently, Allscripts gained presence in the HIE market with its 2013 acquisition of dbMotion.  At this time, we are not aware of any other M&A activity in the HIE market but these deals represent 40% of the vendors shown here.

You may have also noticed that the vendors involved in these moves have a well-established and significant presence in healthcare. They recognized the importance in finding a way to associate themselves with HIE and the quickest path to accomplishing that goal is through acquisition. Of course, going after the “right” vendor is critical to achieving success and long-term market stability through this acquisition path.

While there are no guarantees, consideration should be given to the impact a future acquisition would have on your HIE operations and established contract. Some of those “clues” include:

  • How long the vendor has been in the business?
  • What is the size of their customer base?
  • What is their level of involvement in some of the HIE/interoperability workgroups and organizations?

As a general best practice, MD Buyline stresses with all of our members the importance of a thorough due diligence process that includes live site visits and calls with customers of similar size. For example, if yours is a large multi-entity health system, be sure the vendor has not only established success with other customers of like size but is willing to arrange a site visit for you.

As an MD Buyline analyst this is something I, as well as my colleagues, do in order to ensure we are able to provide our members with real-world information of how a system works in a clinical setting.

There is also the possibility that your current EHR vendor could provide your with an HIE solution as well, so we recommend that you also seek to include your EHR vendor in this process to determine if they would, in fact, be a viable HIE candidate. Do you they offer HIE capabilities associated with your EHR system – either directly or through a third party provider? If they do partner with a specific HIE vendor, it could make a lot of sense to consider that option.

Another key aspect of the selection process is proposed pricing. Determining how willing the vendor is to disclose the information you require to compare bids will help you develop a sense of how forthright they will be on other issues of business integrity.

In your vendor discussions also be sure to take note of how quickly they respond to general questions and requests for additional information. Observe whether they are willing to make reasonable concessions on pricing and terms & conditions. The conclusions you draw will give insight as to their level of interest in winning your business as well as the kind of relationship you can expect down the road.

In the end, your decision should be based largely on the solution and the vendor that offers the best fit with your overall vision and strategy.

Now, you may have noticed the emphasis of the word “YOUR” in this blog post. This is not just a formatting choice– this is something we at MD Buyline highly believe in. Each facility is different. That is why at MD Buyline we value providing our members with custom analysis geared towards their unique set of needs and goals.

Let us know where your facility is in your HIE implementation! We’d love to hear from you.

Phyllis Carlin, BA
Phyllis Carlin, BA, IT Analyst — Ms. Carlin joined MD Buyline in 1995 with over 18 years of experience in the healthcare industry. As a specialist in IT software solutions at MD Buyline, Ms. Carlin has primary responsibility for several technologies, voice processing (e.g., dictation, transcription and CVR), real-time location systems, enterprise resource planning (e.g., financial, supply chain and human capital management), time and attendance, staff scheduling, financial decision support, bed/capacity management, food and nutrition management, interactive patient communication and home healthcare. Ms. Carlin graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from Baylor University.