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Journal of Healthcare Engineering
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1053403, 9 pages
Research Article

Enabling Health Reform through Regional Health Information Exchange: A Model Study from China

1Center for Medical Informatics, Peking University, Beijing, China
2Peking University Third Hospital, Beijing, China
3Health Department of Xinjin County, Chengdu City, Sichuan Province, China
4Center for Statistics and Information, National Health and Family Planning Commission, Beijing, China
5The University of Texas School of Biomedical Informatics, Houston, TX, USA

Correspondence should be addressed to Jianbo Lei

Received 30 November 2016; Revised 5 February 2017; Accepted 26 February 2017; Published 28 March 2017

Academic Editor: Zhengxing Huang

Copyright © 2017 Jianbo Lei et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objective. To investigate and share the major challenges and experiences of building a regional health information exchange system in China in the context of health reform. Methods. This study used interviews, focus groups, a field study, and a literature review to collect insights and analyze data. The study examined Xinjin’s approach to developing and implementing a health information exchange project, using exchange usage data for analysis. Results. Within three years and after spending approximately $2.4 million (15 million RMB), Xinjin County was able to build a complete, unified, and shared information system and many electronic health record components to integrate and manage health resources for 198 health institutions in its jurisdiction, thus becoming a model of regional health information exchange for facilitating health reform. Discussion. Costs, benefits, experiences, and lessons were discussed, and the unique characteristics of the Xinjin case and a comparison with US cases were analyzed. Conclusion. The Xinjin regional health information exchange system is different from most of the others due to its government-led, government-financed approach. Centralized and coordinated efforts played an important role in its operation. Regional health information exchange systems have been proven critical for meeting the global challenges of health reform.