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What are some common terms used when discussing health information exchange (HIE)?

The terminology and language used when discussing health information exchange is still evolving. Both the private and public sectors have been engaged in efforts to develop consistent definitions to promote communication and understanding with regard to health information exchange capabilities. The Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) recently enlisted the leadership of the National Alliance for Health Information Technology (NAHIT), an organization focused on promoting the application of IT in health care, to develop standardized definitions. The terms and definitions below represent this effort and include some commonly accepted descriptions in the industry.

  • Health Information Exchange (HIE): The electronic movement of health-related information among organizations according to nationally recognized standards.
  • Health Information Exchange Organization (HIO): An organization that oversees and governs the exchange of health-related information among organizations according to nationally recognized standards.
  • Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO): A health information organization that brings together health care stakeholders within a defined geographic area and governs health information exchange among them for the purpose of improving health and care in that community. In present form, most current efforts for health information exchange are RHIOs.
  • Integrated Health System (IHS): A network of organizations connected across a continuum of care through horizontal and vertical integration to provide services to a defined population and accountable, both clinically and fiscally, for the outcomes and health status of the population served. Other interchangeable terms for IHS include integrated health network, integrated delivery system, organized delivery system, and integrated care system.  

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