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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 the different technical architectures of RHIOs?

Currently, there are three basic data architectures:

Architecture Type



Patient data is collected and stored in a centralized repository, data warehouse, or other database, with the HIO having full control over the data and the ability to authenticate, authorize, and record transactions among participants.

Federated (decentralized)

Interconnected independent databases allow for data sharing and exchange, and grant users access to the information only when needed.


Incorporates variations of federated and centralized architectures to harness the advantages of both.

Source: Health Information Exchanges: Similarities and Differences, HIMSS HIE Common Practices Survey Results White Paper, HIMSS Health Information Exchange, Best Practices Task Force, March 2009. 

Recently, service-oriented architecture (SOA) has been the subject of much interest as it provides the opportunity for diverse systems to interoperate without requiring the use of a particular kind of computer system. 

In making decisions regarding the appropriate architectural funding for the RHIO, the funding, technical expertise of staff, and the ultimate goals of the initiative must be considered. The participation of leadership and technical staff at forums that discuss these issues is important so that the organization is aware of the current state of knowledge and potential future direction.


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