States Collaborate to Advance Health Information Exchange

| September 09, 2012

Partnership was the common theme among 4 states making technology news in August.

Partnership was the common theme among 4 states making technology news in August.

Health Information Exchanges (HIE) in Montana and Alabama welcomed some unusual partners, including state universities and a regional railroad. A Pennsylvania state grant will help 4 health organizations connect with one another and avoid cost duplication. And, a new law in New York lets hospitals work together when they grant credentials to clinicians providing telemedicine services.

Montana: HIE Works with Railroads to Boost Connectivity

Railroads have always been an essential connector of people in rural states. That’s been especially true for the nation’s western states. So it makes sense that the Health Information Exchange of Montana (HIEM) would look to the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF) to help physicians share patient health data and provide telehealth services.

BNSF helped HIEM build a 425-mile fiber optic network that follows the railroad company’s tracks between the towns of Whitefish and Conrad in northwestern Montana. The route spans the Continental Divide and features rugged terrain and isolated communities.

HIEM plans to use the fiber network to connect 21 hospitals and clinics. Its goal is create one of the most advanced health care technology networks in Montana, says Health Care IT News. The network received $13.6 million from the Federal Communication Commission’s Rural Health Care Pilot Program and a $2.4 million cash match from local network partners.

Alabama: Praise for EHR Efforts

Alabama’s HIE Commission has won high praise for its success in getting doctors to adopt electronic health records (EHR). Its secret? Cooperation and collaboration among stakeholders, says Dr. Dan Roach, the state Health Information Technology (HIT) coordinator.

“Our state leaders, public and private agencies, state universities, provider groups, patient advocacy groups – we’re at the table… everyone has a voice,” Roach told EHR Intelligence. “Everyone is part of the decision-making process. We may not all always agree, but we work it out.”

The state’s Regional Extension Center has about 1,300 individual provider members. Most (91%) members have adopted EHRs. A third (31%) has met requirements for “meaningful use” of EHRs.

Pennsylvania: State Grants Connect Providers and HIEs

Four state grants will help Pennsylvania health care providers speed up their connection to regional HIEs while avoiding cost duplication. The grants brought of total of $6 million to 4 organizations:

  • HealthShare of Southeastern Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.
  • Highmark HIE in Pittsburgh.
  • Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown.
  • St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem.

The money will help the 4 organizations connect to a technical platform that will give them access to a central provider directory, patient index and record-locator service, says MedCityNews.

New York: New Telemedicine Bill Eases Credentialing Hassles

A new law streamlines the process for credentialing telemedicine providers in New York.

The law authorizes hospitals receiving telemedicine services to rely on the credentialing and privileging decisions of the hospital providing the services. The law also lets the receiving hospital rely on the hospital providing services to carry out mandated peer review and quality assurance activities.