Platforms vs. Passthroughs: The Pros and Cons for QHIN™ Participants

For healthcare organizations embarking on their search for Qualified Health Information NetworksTM (QHINTM), one significant decision looms large - whether to partner with a vendor that will store and aggregate their data in a platform or to partner with a vendor that will simply pass their data through to them directly.

Each approach has pros and cons, and Health Gorilla’s QHIN offers both options, so we’ll lay out the benefits of a platform approach and a passthrough approach.

Benefits of a Platform

Platforms act as a secure unified hub, where data received from your QHIN is first stored, normalized, de-duplicated, and organized into a single patient record. At Health Gorilla, we built a health interoperability engine that powers large health information networks and enriches tens of millions of clinical documents monthly. It goes way beyond having a Master Patient Index for patient linking or a Record Locator Service for maximizing the retrieval of documents from the network. The platform combines over a dozen complex data solutions, from a SQL engine to derive population insights to advanced patient matching algorithms to ensure accurate identification. We have no dependencies on third-party technical service providers, so QHIN participants can rely on Health Gorilla staff to implement its platform and provide dedicated support. But generally speaking, there are a range of benefits and challenges from the platform approach.


  • Centralized Data Storage and Management: The platform acts as a central repository for patient data, making it readily accessible to authorized users regardless of location or system. This can simplify data access and improve care coordination.
  • Advanced Data Matching and Analytics: Platforms employ sophisticated algorithms for patient matching and record linking, leading to more accurate identification and reduced duplicate records. Additionally, platforms may offer analytics tools that can be used to generate insights and improve population health management.
  • Enhanced Security and Compliance: Platforms, especially those belonging to QHINs, are rigorously vetted. We maintain robust security measures to protect patient data privacy and meet the high bar of HITRUST R2 certification. This can alleviate some of the compliance burden for participating organizations.
  • Standardized Data Exchange: Platforms normalize diverse data formats into FHIR, enabling easier data exchange with 3rd parties and a seamless response to the network.


  • Technological Dependence: Joining a QHIN with a platform can create dependence on their specific technology and data storage solutions. This may make switching to another platform or managing your data independently more difficult.
  • Increased Costs: Some platforms may add additional costs to QHIN participation related to data storage, analytics, or other features.
  • Limited Flexibility: Platform systems offer a standardized approach to data exchange and functionalities. This might not cater to the specific needs and workflows of every organization, potentially hindering some customization and control.

Benefits of a Passthrough

Health Gorilla also supports a passthrough model for QHIN participants, acting as a gateway to national interoperability without sacrificing data autonomy. Our passthrough system allows you to bypass any centralized platform and maintain direct control over your patient information from storage to exchange. Without a platform, your organization won't be locked in with any particular vendor and could theoretically transfer from one QHIN to the other more easily.

Some pros of the passthrough option could also become cons. Your organization would have full ownership of data compliance and data security. Your organization would also take on additional data storage costs and need to build solutions to organize the data and make it actionable for your use case.


  • Greater Control: QHIN participants can maintain direct control over their data storage and security measures, giving them more flexibility and independence.
  • Reduced Costs: By eliminating platform-related costs, your organization can participate in a QHIN at a lower overall cost.
  • Enhanced Privacy: Data remains within the QHIN participant’s systems, potentially mitigating concerns about centralized data storage with another vendor.


  • Increased Complexity: Integrating with a QHIN without a platform and managing data exchange can be more complex and require more significant technical expertise within your organization.
  • Data Matching and Access Challenges: Patient matching and record linking across different systems can be challenging, impacting data access and care coordination.
  • Compliance Burden: Your organization would become responsible for ensuring data privacy and security compliance.
  • Engineering Burden: To derive population health insights from the dataset, your engineering team must build data enrichment and analytics solutions.

The ideal option for QHIN participants depends on their individual needs and priorities. Organizations concerned about cost and customizing a platform for their business may prefer the passthrough option. At the same time, those seeking to reduce the burden on their engineering team and want to bring insights to their care teams faster will benefit from the data platform. Ultimately, carefully evaluating both options, considering organizational resources, technical expertise, and data exchange requirements, is crucial for making an informed decision.