Growth and Integration Make AzHeC a National Leader

Published On: March 9, 2017

Arizona Health-e Connection (AzHeC) has become the nation’s fastest growing health information exchange (HIE) as it approaches the two-year anniversary of going live with its new technology platform. On April 1, 2015, AzHeC launched its new technology platform and soon began to see exponential growth in participation and use. Today the HIE is signing four to five new HIE participants each week.  The HIE now includes more than 100 independent community provider organizations and is expected to exceed 300 total participating organizations in April. In addition, the full integration of physical and behavioral health information has set Arizona’s HIE apart from others nationally.

“The new technology platform really allowed us to grow participation and use rapidly,” said Mike Mote, Chief Strategy Officer for AzHeC. “Two key features of the new platform were critical to driving interest in participation. One was the ability to provide real-time alerts of events such as hospital admissions and discharges, and the other was the ability to integrate both physical and behavioral health information in the HIE.” 

Alerts include notification of events such as hospital admissions, discharges and transfers (ADTs) and other events or results. These are a primary type of data that hospitals supply to the HIE so that alerts can be provided to community providers and others who subscribe to these notifications for patients that they want to track closely. As interest in this service has grown, so has hospital participation in the HIE statewide. Today, Arizona’s HIE includes data on more than 90 percent of all Arizona hospital inpatient and emergency department discharges.  With this ADT data, AzHeC has provided nearly 1.25 million alerts to community providers in the past two years, helping to improve treatment and care coordination for some of the state’s sickest patients.

The ability of the new platform to integrate both physical and behavioral health information in the HIE has been a key factor in bringing behavioral health provider participation to the HIE. There are 69 behavioral health provider organizations in the HIE, including all major behavioral health providers in Arizona. Not only is this participation allowing behavioral health providers to access valuable physical health information such as hospital ADTs and patient labs, it is facilitating care coordination for patients with comorbid physical and behavioral health problems. The number of behavioral health participants as well as the ability to fully integrate physical and behavioral health data in the HIE has made AzHeC a national leader in integrated health information exchange.

While AzHeC has 69 behavioral health participants and more than 100 community provider participants, the total number of clinicians in the HIE is much greater.  All of the HIE participants that are hospitals or healthcare organizations can have hundreds of clinicians who are able to access information in the HIE. In addition, the HIE now includes 21 Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) and community health centers, 21 long-term care and post-acute care facilities and eight first responder organizations – all with clinicians able to access patient information in the HIE. While we will soon have more than 300 participants in the HIE, it is safe to say that there are several thousand clinicians in the HIE.