Data Aggregation and M&A Activity Bookend Outlook for Health Information Exchanges


Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) have been a hot topic in healthcare IT dating back to 2009.  HIEs are so often mentioned with interoperability platforms, data exchanges and integration engines that it has been difficult to sort out the actual services performed by an HIE, much less the relevant vendors and their solutions.

TripleTree defined HIEs as aggregators of electronic patient-centric, clinical information from disparate, unconnected information systems into a common repository for translation in a common format.  HIEs eliminate the need for patients having several EMRs for their health information – in some ways it becomes the virtual master patient record.

Three measurable benefits from the ability of providers to pull patient information from an HIE for a more accurate, real-time view of the patient’s health history resulting in better patient care and reduced costs include:

  • Enhanced care coordination
  • Prevention of harmful drug interactions
  • Elimination of redundant tests and procedures

The mixture of consumerism and reform in healthcare is forcing this inevitable shift toward HIEs – and since Q1’10 we’ve seen four market proof points:

  • Harris acquires CarefxFeb 2011 – Harris acquired Carefx for $155m to expand Harris’ capabilities in government healthcare, provide an entry into the commercial healthcare market, and strengthen its position as a provider of interoperability solutions.
  • Aetna acquires MedicityDec 2010 – Aetna acquired Medicity for $500m as a potential counter to Ingenix’s acquisition of Axolotl and a way for Aetna to become more relevant in the provider market.
  • Ingenix acquires AxolotlAug 2010 –  Ingenix continued its 2010 buying spree and picked up a leader in the HIE space with Axoltol.  With Ingenix’s growing portfolio of HIT assets, we’re closely watching how they integrate Axolotl with their other clinical assets.
  • Lawson acquires Healthvision (Cloverleaf)Jan 2010 – Lawson made a move to expand their healthcare presence “beyond just an apps vendor” to become a more integrated HIT player.

Despite this consolidation, a number of standalone, pure play HIE vendors (Wellogic, Informatics Corporation of America (ICA), MobileMD, HealthUnity, Orion Health) offer relevant solutions.  Aggregating patient and clinical data into a common repository is (and will be) relatively simple.  Complexity will come from those vendors who begin to build new applications that leverage the patient-centric, rich clinical data to create “data assets” on the backs of HIEs – a key to feeding the insatiable appetite around Accountable Care Organizations (ACOs) and the marketplaces growing need to influence:

  • Care coordination
  • Decision support and evidence-based care protocols
  • Real time monitoring and event-driven triggers
  • Longitudinal patient reporting
  • Provider quality reporting and benchmarking
  • Unified patient dashboards

The winners won’t be “data plumbers” or “just integrators” but will focus on adding the applications that leverage data into new business models.  It’s still too early to tell if the consolidators can beat out the specialist pure play providers, but if you have any thoughts or would like to hear more about this sector let us know.

Thanks and have a good week.

Judd Stevens
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