Meaningfully Using Health IT: A Closer Look at Two Effective State HIEs
Meaningful use stage 2 lays out much more than simple satisfaction CMS requirements for receving electronic health record (EHR) incentive payments. While many practices haven’t yet connected to a health information exchange (HIE), two states stand out from the rest, adding new hospitals and health systems to their growing pool of aggregated health data.
First, the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) announced this week that yet another healthcare provider, the University of Colorado Hospital, would connect to its network. Like the 28 other hospitals and nearly 700 private practice providers, the University of Colorado Hospital will connect its Epic EHR to the statewide HIE.
It was another addition to the strategies and tactics that better coordinate follow-up care, increasing efficiency when patients move between various settings of care, often at different provider locations, all throughout the state.
“Interconnected electronic health records are an important part of the future of health care,” said UCHealth CEO Bruce Schroffel. “We’re focused on getting every UCHealth location connected through the same medical record system which will increase quality and efficiency, and CORHIO allows us to connect to outside hospitals and clinics across the state.”
CORHIO is also comprised of 38 long-term care and post-acute care centers, four behavioral health centers, and two medical labs. After several years of building successful partnerships and including additional member health systems, CORHIO appears to be pushing forward without looking back. The HIE also announced an additional 12 hospitals and 900 office-based providers that were working toward an agreement to join the data sharing network.
Colorado’s next door neighbor, the state of Kansas, is also reporting gains in their more recently implemented HIE. Beginning in 2011 with the Kansas Health Information Technology and Exchange Act, the state began building out the Kansas HIE that currently connects 200,000 patients to a statewide information exchange.
The Kansas HIE is also taking advantage of another key element of meaningful use demonstration by standing up a statewide patient portal that operates across a shared network.
“If a patient looks at a portal and it’s used across multiple providers, every single provider who has provided care for that patient can count it toward their 5 percent as long as the provider is connected to the KHIN network,” said Laura McCrary, executive director, Kansas Health Information Center, at HIMSS13. “Often, patients will look at portal from hospital or from clinic — only one portal. So if the patient is accessing the hospital’s [separate] portal, that patient can’t count toward the five percent requirement for the provider — even though the patient also visits the practice.”
The road to implementation of meaningfully using the health IT capabilities that CMS is driving with their incentive program (which passed $12 billion in payouts in March 2013) is more than simply compensating providers. It’s about connecting patients to care in ways that were previously impossible. Once the incentive program is exhausted, it will be the responsibility of both patients and providers to maintain the connected dots that CMS helped facilitate into existence.