Unprecedented amounts of data are produced by the health care and other sectors, presenting opportunities for local health departments (LHDs) to access these data. LHDs will need to participate in health information exchange (HIE) with a number of partners in order to benefit from these data resources. LHDs' participation in HIEs with specific partners has not been studied.Objectives:
To describe the level of and challenges in LHD participation in HIE with other partners, and variation by LHD population size and governance type.Data and Methods:
This research uses data from the 2015 Informatics Capacity and Needs Assessment Survey, with a target population of all LHDs in the United States. A representative sample of 650 LHDs was drawn using a stratified random sampling design. A total of 324 completed responses were received with a 50% response rate. Survey data were cleaned, and bivariate comparisons were conducted using χ2 and Somer's D.Results:
Substantial variation existed in LHDs' participation in HIE by type of exchange partner. Although 71% participated in HIE with the state departments of health, only 12% with jail/correctional health, 14% with health or county-based purchasing plans, and 15% with home health agencies. Compared with large LHDs (jurisdiction populations of ≥500 000), smaller LHDs were more likely to participate in HIE with state departments of health, but less likely with other exchange partners. The challenges to HIE participation were technological, and organizational/interorganizational in nature and variation existed by LHDs' population size and governance structure with respect to state authority.Conclusions:
Local public health agencies more commonly participate in HIE with some partners, but may need to improve HIE with many others. National strategies targeting an increase in HIE of LHDs may use our findings to focus those initiatives.