Small state, big HIE innovator

Delaware has shown its leadership on the healthcare IT front, with state government as well as private entities involved.

Delaware proved its mettle on data exchange, now comes insurance exchange

DOVER, DE – While Delaware is moving slowly on health insurance exchanges and other pieces of health reform, it has demonstrated it is an innovator, having established the first operational statewide health information exchange in the country in May 2007.

The Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) provides secure direct delivery of lab and pathology results, radiology and transcribed reports, and demographic and billing information. It also includes clinical history, including medications, searchable by authorized DHIN users.

In February, DHIN accomplished full participation of all acute care hospitals and skilled nursing facilities in the state, along with 86 percent of Delaware providers, in the network, essentially a statewide community health record.

The statewide HIE gives Delaware the ability to improve the quality of care while managing its cost, said Delaware Gov. Jack Markell, a Democrat who took office in 2009. “This is the fundamental technological foundation we need to build a system of focused and managed healthcare that keeps people healthy,” he said in announcing the achievement.

Rita Landgraf, secretary of Delaware Health and Social Services, said that connecting Delaware’s nursing homes with DHIN was “a critical milestone and a key component to eliminating medication errors. By enabling access to discharge summaries and other information, we can ensure seamless transitions of care for residents in these facilities."

DHIN has a Web-based portal for providers without an electronic health record, including auto-print for paper charting and direct interface into the EHR with patient record matching for those providers with EHRs.

Delaware’s April 24 Republican primary played out against the backdrop of healthcare innovation. Delaware has the smallest number of delegates, 17, of the four primaries taking place the same day. With former Massachusetts governor, Mitt Romney, the presumed GOP presidential candidate, the primaries have become ho-hum affairs.

Earlier this month, Romney told an audience in Wilmington, Del., he would repeal the health reform law or issue an executive order for waivers to the 50 states. He has called for each state to create its own health reform plan.

Delaware may be most renowned as the state where in 2010 the Tea Party-backed Republican candidate Christine O' Donnell defeated nine-term Rep. Mike Castle, a moderate, in the primary before she lost the U.S. Senate bid in the general election, in part due to some bizarre advertising that referenced witchcraft.

In 2012, Delaware is trying to come up with some real-world solutions to developing a health insurance exchange and extending coverage to its 104,000 uninsured individuals without breaking its budget.