Why Aren’t We Using HIEs to Support Vaccination Efforts (and Everything Else)? w/ Niam Yaraghi


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As of 2015 the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT had awarded $548 million in grants to states to establish health information exchanges (HIE). I have no doubt hundreds of millions of dollars more have been invested in various ways since then. So, when faced with one of the most daunting healthcare data challenges of our time in the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, surely, we turned to the HIEs first. Right? Not so much, according to today’s guest.

Niam Yaraghi, assistant professor of Business Technology at Miami Herbert Business School at the University of Miami and a nonresident fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Center for Technology Innovation, recently explored the use of HIEs in vaccination efforts across the country. He tells us that “While the U.S. employed every possible resource to develop the vaccines, we are neglecting to use the best available information technologies to efficiently distribute them”.

In Yaraghi’s recent article, co-authored with Brookings Institution colleague Peter Levin, they share that none of the state vaccination plans they reviewed made any mention of using HIEs to support the effort. Further, they found no correlation between a state’s vaccination success and the existence of a robust HIE infrastructure in that state.

There are some efforts underway to change this, including ONC’s $20 million investment to help increase data sharing between health information exchanges (HIEs) and immunization information systems. Still, the question remains: why aren’t we using HIEs to their fullest potential to support the vaccine rollout? And why aren’t we turning to the HIEs first whenever we need to move clinical data in general? On this episode, we explore those questions plus:

Niam Yaraghi

Niam Yaraghi is an Assistant Professor of Business Technology at Miami Herbert Business School, and a non-resident Fellow in the Brookings Institution's Center for Technology Innovation.

Niam's research is focused on the economics of health information technologies. In particular, Niam studies the business models and policy structures that incentivize interoperability and sharing of health information among patients, providers, payers and regulators. Niam's research has appeared in leading business journals including MIS Quarterly, Information Systems Research, and Production and Operations Management, as well as top-tier health policy and informatics journals including Journal of American Medical Informatics Association, and Milbank Quarterly.

He regularly consults with various companies and platforms in the healthcare industry and is a sought-after expert and speaker on issues related to health information technology in media and at industry conferences.

Niam has a B.Sc in Industrial Engineering from the Isfahan University of Technology in Iran, and a M.Sc from the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. He received his Ph.D. in Management Science & Systems from the State University of New York at Buffalo.

Twitter: @niamyaraghi

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