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There You Go Again

November 17, 2010

I was reading a respectable publication the other day and came across an article about health insurance exchanges. The acronym was “HIE,” and there lies my confusion.
For many years now, we have all been referring to health information exchanges as HIEs. Now with health reform in place, which establishes health exchanges, referring to the insurance aspects, and we’re getting confused again.
We have EMRs, for electronic medical records. We have EHRs for electronic health records, which if you ask some people, are interchangeable, yet, from my understanding are slightly different. So, here we are again: HIEs, which I came to know as health information exchanges, used by providers to exchange health information about patients between two (or more) providers or health care organizations, and now there are health insurance exchanges referred to as HIEs.
Stop the madness, please!
Health care is confusing enough to navigate without all the confusing acronyms. And, besides, who came up with these acronyms in the first place? Well, in the case of HIEs (health information exchanges), that is, these came about post-RHIO…remember RHIOs? You never hear about RHIOs (regional health information organizations) anymore, or RHINs or HINs (regional health information networks or health information networks), for that matter. Oh, it’s all confusing without all the confusing acronyms.
Even Wikis confuse the situation. To my point: “An electronic health record (EHR) (also electronic patient record (EPR) or computerized patient record) is an evolving concept defined as a systematic collection of electronic health information about individual patients or populations. It is a record in digital format that is capable of being shared across different health care settings, by being embedded in network-connected enterprise-wide information systems. Such records may include a whole range of data in comprehensive or summary form, including demographics, medical history, medication and allergies, immunization status, laboratory test results, radiology images, and billing information.
An electronic medical record (EMR) is a computerized medical record created in an organization that delivers care, such as a hospital and doctor’s surgery. Electronic medical records tend to be a part of a local stand-alone health information system that allows storage, retrieval and modification of records.
One that always confused me was CPOE. I knew it as computerized physician order entry; then someone referred to it as “computerized provider order entry.” Not that big of a difference, mind you, but a physician is the guy or gal I see in my doctor’s office. A provider can be just about anybody related to providing me with good care (e.g., physician assistant, nurse practitioner, doctor, nurse – a health care provider).
Let’s help the cause and have a single acronym for each HIE. How about health information exchange gets HIE and health insurance exchange gets HIX or HINX?
What do you think?

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