Patients’ Support For Health Information Exchange – Type of Information Exchanged (Updated 10th June 2017)


In their article, Esmaeilzadeh and Sambasivan discuss types of health information being exchanged in a Health Information Exchange. They identify five types of information that are considered sensitive by the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics. The authors also note that patients are more willing to share deidentified information and less willing to share sensitive information. Patients are more willing to share sensitive information with mental health providers and less willing to share information with researchers. There were four types of information patients agreed could be shared:-

  • Lab results
  • Diagnostic imaging
  • Main complaints
  • Medication

The authors suggest that enabling patients’ control over information will improve confidence in HIE’s.

What were the main findings in the Esmaeilzadeh and Sambasivan paper?

Esmaeilzadeh and Sambasivan have published a paper on Health Information Exchanges, ‘Patients’ support for health information exchange: a literature review and classification of key factors‘.

They identified seven key themes from the literature

  • Perceived benefits
  • Perceived concerns
  • Patient characteristics
  • Level of patient participation in HIE
  • Types of health information to be exchanged
  • Types of recipients
  • Patient preferences regarding consent

Patient Records

Patient records are central to the delivery of healthcare and serve a number of functions including the recording of clinical assessments and interventions. Aggregated data is also utilised at a local and national level to inform commissioning.

Electronic Patient Records

The digitisation of patient records offers a number of advantages over paper based records. These advantages include automated backup of records, reduced use of physical storage space (since paper based notes are switched to servers), off-site access to records using mobile devices and the potential to develop analytical clinical support tools which use computers to process clinical data to help improve clinical decisions. Not all healthcare services have electronic patient records but most providers are moving in this direction.

Getting Electronic Patient Records to Talk to Each Other

When patients move between healthcare providers – for instance between primary care and the hospital – they may find that one provider does not have information that the other provider has. There are many providers and many electronic paper record systems. For two systems to talk to each other they have to solve a number of problems. When these problems are solved a patient can move between providers and healthcare information can be accessed by the different providers. A key solution to this problem of health information gaps is the Health Information Exchange (HIE).

The Health Information Exchange

There are many definitions of what a Health Information Exchange is. (Hersh et al, 2015) define a HIE as follows:

Health information exchange (HIE), the electronic sharing of clinical information across the boundaries of health care organizations’

Whilst this definition is simple, the process of sharing clinical information between healthcare organisations is technically complex and encompasses a range of software, hardware and governance issues. The process of helping systems to talk to each other is helped by the development of standards. A set of standards is outlined in the NHS interoperability framework.

Links to Other Posts in the Health Information Exchange Series

General Posts to Date on Health Information Exchanges

Posts on Examples of Health Information Exchanges

SNOMED CT®/ICD Mapping and Harmonisation Posts


ICD 1-10 Posts

ICD-11 Posts


Esmaeilzadeh P, Sambasivan M.BMC Med Inform Decis Mak. 2017 Apr 4;17(1):33. doi: 10.1186/s12911-017-0436-2. Patients’ support for health information exchange: a literature review and classification of key factors.

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Disclaimer: The comments made here represent the opinions of the author and do not represent the profession or any body/organisation. The comments made here are not meant as a source of medical advice and those seeking medical advice are advised to consult with their own doctor. The author is not responsible for the contents of any external sites that are linked to in this blog.

Conflicts of Interest: *For potential conflicts of interest please see the About section


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