$7M federal grant goes to Kansas HIEs

The Kansas Department of Health and the Environment (KDHE) has awarded $7.1 million in federal grants to two health information exchange organizations, as part of efforts to expand statewide information sharing.

Certified for health IT implementation by the Kansas Health Information Exchange board, the Kansas Health Information Network and the Lewis and Clark Information Exchange are receiving the grants for developing health information exchange interoperability and electronic health record adoption among provider members.

The funding, part of a federal suite of health IT grants being administered by the state, “will not only enhance the current health IT network but will expand the capabilities of our population health management system,” KDHE secretary Robert Moser, MD, said in a media release.

The performance-based grants are being offered in part to help providers achieve meaningful use, and the funds will be spent by Sept. 30, 2013, Moser said.

The Kansas Health Information Network connects providers across large swaths of urban and rural Kansas using ICA’s CareAlign platform. The network’s executive director, Laura McCrary, said their portion of the $7.1 million grant — which depends on the number of providers involved — will mostly be used for HIE infrastructure and interfaces connecting providers.

The Lewis and Clark Information Exchange covers mostly western Missouri and some providers in eastern Kansas and Nebraska, using Center’s HIE platform.

Whether or not the two HIEs link to each other, health information exchange in Kansas is growing, as more providers sign up for meaningful use and transition to digital health record keeping. Throughout the state, more than 3,400 individual providers and 65 hospitals have enrolled with either or both of the HIEs.

In November, Kansas became the first state in the country to use an HIE, the Kansas Health Information Network, to link into BioSense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s national disease outbreak surveillance system, something Kansas state epidemiologist Charlie Hunt has been looking forward to, after KDHE asked Kansas hospitals to report influenza symptoms in the wake of 2009’s H1N1 flu outbreak, as a way to prevent any further spread and to track hospital bed availability.

"Once we get high enough participation in BioSense,” Hunt told the Kansas Health Institute News Service, “we'll be able to query the system for influenza-like symptoms rather than have to have the hospitals report to us separately."