Journey to the land of health information exchange

27 Jul

Doing means learning. Learning means mistakes.
— Jeffrey Pfeffer, Stanford Business School professor

When I first read that quote, long before I knew anything about Jeffrey Pfeffer, it sang to me. It perfectly describes my blog direction shift: I’m about to do something. I know it entails learning – that’s why I’m embarking on the project in the first place. And I know that learning necessitates mistakes.

Back in April, I read an appealing job description. I have 13 years of health care marketing experience, and I’m always looking to expand my knowledge and experience. The job title was “Manager, Health Information Exchange.” Since I didn’t know much about health information exchange at the time, I embarked on a journey to find out.

[tweetmeme source=”KateEGrey” only_single=false]

By coincidence, three days later I received an email from my MBA program looking for students to work on an independent-study project for the State of Nevada’s Office of Health Information Technology, which is developing the state’s Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement, an initiative funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. I ended up assigned to lead a student team to explore communications planning for the state’s strategic and operational plan.

This led to reading other states’ plans, and webinars, and watching videos, and questions. I find the privacy aspects of health information exchange, or HIE, fascinating. How will consumers respond once an electronic health record that follows them everywhere is a reality? How will this data be used by marketers within individual organizations? CAN it be used by marketers, and under what parameters? What role will marketers play in communicating their organizations’ HIE policies? Will it give health care providers more time with patients, and perhaps a more personal experience? And perhaps most interesting of all, how will a shift to evidence-based medicine affect health care marketing?

So this is where the learning, and the mistakes, come in. So far, I’ve not been able to find much information on the marketing aspects of HIE – but given how much information is already out there about the policy, IT and operational issues, there’s a lot to comb through. Maybe it’s a non-issue – maybe this will have no impact on health care marketers.

But clues are emerging it might be of interest to healthcare marketers:

And what does the study have to say?

Referrals become an unexpected bonus
It turns out that the same time-saving benefit that brought
all of the EPSC physicians on-board the EHR transition was
also fulfilling an unknown need for referring physicians.
“We started getting a lot of referrals from new sources we’d
never even met,” says Herst. “Our referral base was growing
about 10 percent a year.”

Hmm. Let’s see what we find out.


2 Responses to “Journey to the land of health information exchange”

  1. e-Patient Dave July 28, 2010 at 10:20 am #

    Hmmm … I’m both a patient and a marketer who’s worked pretty deeply in data-driven personalized marketing. This is a non-trivial issue, from any direction.

    The heart of the issue is that the sole reason for the existence of my health data is MY HEALTH. Uninvited uses of it for marketing are unethical IMO. (And I say that as a marketer!)

    This is a nuanced, non-trivial subject… if it interests you, try hard to get to e-Patient Connections in Philadelphia in Sept. (I’m speaking there but that’s not why I’m saying it; it’s a good event. I’m not associated with the event except as a speaker.) They had lots of meaty discussions on this last year. Dig up their site, and watch the talk by Kerri Sparling in particular. Basically she said “I’m a patient first. Market good stuff to me, but never forget that this is about my health, not your business.”

    • Kate Grey August 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm #

      Thanks for your input, Dave. I’ve learned so much from you already in a short time.

      I agree, it’s not trivial — it’s a significant part of our whole health system. How the data is used internally can provide better service to patients. And as marketers, it’s our job to share those stories of better service, and help patients find additional services in our individual health-care organizations which can help them further their health goals. I’m imagining a world where an automated referral goes to the diabetes wellness clinic, and as soon as it comes in the staff member picks up the phone and calls the patient. The patient has one less phone call to make, and one less thing to worry about.

      I’m looking up Kerri Sparling right now!

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