Smiling medical team standing together outside a hospital

HIE for the Masses

Health IT systems have boomed in recent years.

Large healthcare systems and hospitals have deep pockets, and they’ve invested millions in high-tech electronic medical record (EMR) systems. This has given them the ability to connect with national health information exchanges (HIE) and advance patient care and safety across settings.

But what about the little guys?

Nearly half (46 percent) of all primary care physicians own their practices, according to an analysis by Becker’s Healthcare. And roughly a quarter (26 percent) of hospitals are rural, according to the American Hospital Association.

Are the patients of a small rural hospital any less important than those at a mega health system 60 miles away?

Should the number of beds at a hospital or a practice’s provider count limit access to crucial patient data?


That is the resounding answer from all of us at Centralis Health.

In fact, we might go as far as to say it is more important for community, rural, and safety net providers to have easy access to records, because timely access to information can prevent the need for travel to the larger health system or hospitals.

For nearly 20 years, Centralis Health has been encouraging, nurturing, and assisting healthcare communities as they’ve dipped their toes into the world of HIEs.

We’ve been there as HIEs transitioned from community to regional to national levels and as EMR systems grew and grew and grew, pricing out many smaller and rural practices. According to the AHA, in 2021 less than half (48 percent) of rural hospitals were still able to send, receive, find, or integrate electronic health information.

We hold steady on the belief that all providers – small, large, urban, and rural – must be able to access vital medical records to assure the best care and safety for all patients. Community and regional HIEs can make that possible. In fact, community and regional HIEs should be a first step for care providers before joining a national exchange.

Here’s why: Patients are members of a community or region. They often select their provider or hospital by proximity, and it is incumbent on healthcare providers, particularly large health systems and hospitals that draw patients needing special care from across the region, to ensure they have access to their patients’ records.

A community or rural HIE offers small practices and hospitals an affordable way to integrate into larger medical record networks, enhance interoperability, and ensure patients receive the care they need.

In the future, when all healthcare providers are fully connected, a single national exchange may suffice. Until then, Centralis Health and other regional HIEs are here, giving health care providers access to critical medical records for their patients in need today.

by Katie Bradley, Director of Operations and Account Success

As Director of Operations and Workflow, Bradley is responsible for helping hospitals and medical practitioners transition from their outdated and manual health care communications workflows and processes to embrace Centralis Health’s innovative and cloud-based solutions. This includes transforming existing fax, internal communications, and referral management processes to achieve maximum efficiency, productivity, and cost savings. In addition, Bradley leads efforts to encourage and engage greater community participation in health care exchanges between providers and hospitals. Prior to joining Centralis Health in 2015, Bradley served in a variety of administrative and operations roles in health care, including as Director of Operations for Digestive Disease Clinic in Tallahassee, FL. She graduated summa cum laude from Florida International University with a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Services Administration. In her free time, she enjoys traveling and spending time with family and friends.