Literally, an HIE (Health Information Exchange) is the electronic movement of healthcare information among entities within a physically-defined location. This could be internally in a hospital, regionally, in a community or nationally. When HIEs are referenced in articles or discussions, people are talking about HIE organizations who manage these electronic exchanges between disparate clinical applications systems amongst healthcare entities. The goal is a seamless continuity of care for the patient and real-time access to PHI (protected health information) for clinicians, which translates into quality patient care.
HIEs function either independently or from government grants. Grants are funded by the ONC (Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology), as legislated by HITECH.
Federal and state regulations are currently being defined and the pressing issue on the HIE horizon is their sustainability.