RHIOs Allow Exchange of Electronic Info

Brian Klepper, PhD

Oncology NEWS International, Oncology NEWS International Vol 16 No 2, Volume 16, Issue 2

Over the past several years, new structures known as Regional Health Information Organizations, or RHIOs, have begun to appear on the healthcare scene.

Over the past several years, new structures known as Regional Health Information Organizations, or RHIOs, have begun to appear on the healthcare scene. RHIOs are intended to be neutral coalition platforms that facilitate the secure exchange of electronic healthcare information in ways that let everyone who touches healthcare—patients, employers, physicians, hospitals, and health plans—make better decisions.

In a sense, RHIOs are community healthcare utilities that support better decision-making but don't try to otherwise influence decisions. A good analogy is a mass transit system. It gets people in the community where they want to go, safely and efficiently. It doesn't require them to travel particular routes or favor people who want to go to certain destinations.

To be successful, a RHIO should:

• Be a neutral collaborative platform for healthcare information exchange that serves all healthcare constituencies.

• Facilitate more complete patient information for everyone in the system.

• Promote better, more efficient care by improving decision-making and reducing unnecessary services.

• Achieve financial stability and sustainability by bringing measurable value to each participating group, although the way the RHIO benefits each group may be different.

• Have the active buy-in and participation of the employer/purchasing community. Only purchasers can encourage market stability by requiring healthcare pricing and performance accountability.

• Be a community, not-for-profit organization hosted under the auspices of a neutral party, like a university.

RHIO Caveats

A successful RHIO cannot:

• Favor one constituency, like physicians or health plans or employers, to the detriment of others.

• Be housed under the auspices of one healthcare player, like a hospital or health plan.

• Offer clinical or healthcare business management products or services that compete with its participants.

• Merely be a healthcare information technology organization.

RHIOs are about sharing information for better healthcare decision-making across the boundaries that divide organizations.