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NWCPHP to Evaluate Washington State Health Information Exchange

Researchers at NWCPHP have been awarded a two-year contract to help determine what factors influence adoption and use of the Washington State Health Information Exchange.

Researchers at NWCPHP have been awarded a two-year contract to help determine what factors influence adoption and use of the Washington State Health Information Exchange.

October 9, 2012

A health information exchange allows different health care systems to exchange clinical information through secure electronic channels. A research team at NWCPHP was recently awarded a two-year contract to help determine what factors influence adoption and use of the Washington State Health Information Exchange.

“Among the potential benefits of a health information exchange,” says Janet Baseman, PhD, MPH, the lead research investigator, “are better coordination of care information among hospitals, labs, physicians, and more timely information to public health for earlier identification and quicker response to public health emergencies.”

With these goals in mind, Washington State began planning for development of a statewide health information exchange in 2010 as part of a cooperative agreement between the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information and Technology and Washington State's Health Care Authority. They are working with OneHealthPort, an organization founded by healthcare organizations to facilitate the exchange of information, which manages the health information exchange project.

NWCPHP researchers are particularly excited about their involvement because, although much is known about the technical infrastructures that allow for electronic use and exchange of information in a health information exchange, very little is known about the barriers or facilitators to adopting services provided by these new technologies. Also largely unknown are the impacts of health information exchanges—intended and unintended—and how to anticipate unforeseen consequences on health care quality and public health systems.

The NWCPHP research plays an important role in addressing these knowledge gaps and also lays the foundation for future examination of the health information exhange’s impact on patient and population health. As Baseman explains, “The success of a health information exchange depends, in part, on understanding the motivators, barriers, and facilitators—at the system, organizational, and individual user levels—that affect implementation and adoption of a health information exchange.”

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