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H H S Department of Health and Human Services
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Health Information Technology and Quality

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What are health information exchange organizations?

The goal of health information exchange is to facilitate access to and retrieval of clinical data to provide safe, timely, efficient, effective, and equitable patient-centered care. Health information exchange organizations (HIOs) provide the capability to electronically move clinical information between disparate health care information systems while maintaining the meaning of the information being exchanged. HIOs also provide the infrastructure for secondary use of clinical data for purposes such as public health, clinical, biomedical, and consumer health informatics research as well as institution and provider quality assessment and improvement.

Most HIOs currently are regional health information organizations (RHIOs). A RHIO facilitates accessibility and exchange of health-related information on individuals for a specified, contiguous geographic area. RHIOs typically include a range of participating health care provider entities as well as other health stakeholders such as payers, laboratories and public health departments and are often managed by a board of directors comprised of representatives from each participating organization. In order for RHIOs to be established, various stakeholders have to develop consensus on what information can be shared among different participating entities. In addition, prior to exchanging information the various entities need to sign data use agreements. Because the capacity to effectively store and manage clinical data electronically is a prerequisite for participating in health information exchange, RHIOs often have programs to assist affiliated providers with health IT adoption at the institutional level.

Resources on regional health information organizations (RHIOs):

Resources on health information exchange:

Developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration as a resource for health centers and other safety net and ambulatory care providers who are seeking to implement health IT.
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