Frequently Asked Questions

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What is an HIE?

A health information exchange (HIE) electronically moves health information among disparate healthcare information systems. Texas law defines an HIE as an organization that:

  • (A) assists in the transmission or receipt of health-related information among organizations transmitting or receiving the information according to nationally recognized standards and under an express written agreement;
  • (B) as a primary business function, compiles or organizes health-related information that is designed to be securely transmitted by the organization among physicians, health care providers, or entities within a region, state, community, or hospital system; or
  • (C) assists in the transmission or receipt of electronic health-related information among physicians, health care providers, or entities within:
    • (i) a hospital system;
    • (ii) a physician organization;
    • (iii) a health care collaborative, as defined by Section 848.001, Insurance Code;
    • (iv) an accountable care organization participating in the Pioneer Model under the initiative by the Innovation Center of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services; or
    • (v) an accountable care organization participating in the Medicare shared savings program under 42 U.S.C. Section 1395jjj.

For more information on local HIEs operating in Texas, click here.

What is an EHR?

An electronic health record (EHR) is a longitudinal health record of patient health information generated by one or more encounters in any healthcare delivery setting.

What is HIETexas?

The THSA's state-level shared services, also known as "HIETexas," is a private and secure health information network that spans the entire state and supports the exchange of information between Texas HIEs and other data sources within the state, and between Texas and other authorized HIEs and federal agencies outside of Texas.

For more information on HIETexas, click here.

Which healthcare providers participate in HIE?

Participation varies by HIE, but generally, physicians, hospitals, laboratories, payers, and other healthcare organizations interested in sharing data within a community participate in HIE.

How do patients choose to participate in HIE?

Patients choose to participate in HIE through consent to exchanging their health information with their healthcare providers. HIEs in Texas offer different consent models, ranging from opt-in models (i.e., the patient must take a specific action for information to be shared via HIE) to opt-out models (i.e., the patient's information is shared via HIE, unless the patient takes an action to stop it), or something in between (e.g., opt-in for some types of data, but opt-out for other types of data).

What if a patient does not want to participate in HIE?

Regardless of the HIE's consent model, all HIEs in Texas offer patients the ability to opt out of sharing information via HIE. This is true even if the patient previously opted in.

How does HIE improve patient care?

Interconnecting clinical providers and patients through a secure, electronic health information system that ensures confidentiality through appropriate levels of patient consent helps ensure that providers have access to the right information at the right time.

Access to clinical information enables healthcare providers to provide better care, reduce duplicative testing, and avoid adverse drug interactions, among other things. HIE also allows providers to access clinical research and guidelines in making medical decisions. Ultimately, HIE enables patients to receive higher-quality care and to better manage their health records.

What is SECURETexas?

"SECURETexas: Health Information Privacy & Security Certification" is a state program administered by the THSA offering organizations privacy and security certification for compliance with state and federal laws regarding the use, storage and/or exchange of protected health information.

For more information on SECURETexas, click here.

Patient Privacy & Security FAQ

The THSA, with input from stakeholders, developed the following frequently asked questions on patient privacy and security to aid health care consumers in understanding how their health information is protected under state and federal medical privacy laws, such as HIPAA, the HITECH Act, and the Texas Medical Records Privacy Act.

THSA Patient Privacy & Security FAQ (May 2013)