Massachusetts lands $17M to launch statewide HIE

By Bernie Monegain
12:24 PM
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Massachusetts will receive $16.9 million in federal funds to help build its health information exchange to move clinical data across “a statewide healthcare information highway."

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Massachusetts’ request for $16.9 million in funding, which is a combination of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant funding and Medicaid funds, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick announced Aug. 3.

“When fully implemented, this technology will support our goals of providing high quality care while slowing the growth of costs,” said Patrick. “The healthcare industry is a vital part of the Massachusetts economy, and I thank the Obama Administration for the continued support.”
  
“Connecting payers, providers and patients will improve quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare throughout the Commonwealth,” said John Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston, chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network and co-chair of the federal HIT Standards Committee.

[See also: Enhancing Health Information Exchange in Massachusetts.]
  
Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to receive federal funding participation approval through CMS to create a health information exchange. This new funding will complement additional efforts under way to support health information technology advances in the Commonwealth, Patrick said.
  
“This exchange will serve as a statewide healthcare information highway, that will connect every payer, provider and patient to a single technology backbone,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services JudyAnn Bigby, MD. “This will create the infrastructure providers and hospitals need to move towards a more integrated, global model of care.”
  
The funding announced today will support Phase 1 of the health information exchange and will allow the Commonwealth to put in place a strong project management team, governance structure and operations staff to develop the HIE’s technical infrastructure. Phase 1 of the project is targeted to go live later this year.
  
Following a competitive bid process, the Patrick-Murray Administration entered into a contract with Orion Health to advance Phase 1 of this three-phase program.
  
“Orion Health has provided comprehensive yet easy-to-use integration solutions to innovative health information exchanges across the country and around the globe,” said Paul Viskovich, president, Orion Health North America. “Our technology will now support the statewide HIE in Massachusetts, providing us with a unique opportunity to work with the most healthcare-centric state in the nation.”

“Building the health information exchange brings Massachusetts one step closer to fully connected and secure patient health records,” said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “Our e-Health Institute’s efforts to connect providers to this exchange will help ensure patients and providers can access and use health records in a meaningful way.”

[See also: Advisory panel cautious about federal HIE proposals.]
  
“Massachusetts has always paved the way when it comes to healthcare and this is another example,” said Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass. “Investing in health information technology is a smart way to create jobs, improve care and reduce costs. This investment will create the infrastructure that doctors, insurers and patients across the state need to share information electronically in a secure environment.”
  
“This Recovery Act funding will help move Massachusetts healthcare system from the age of the black bag to the age of the BlackBerry,” said Congressman Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. (7th CD). “By creating a secure flow of information between health care providers, we can ensure that the care patients receive is appropriate and well-coordinated. When individuals such as those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias show up at an emergency room, it is vital for the doctor on-call to have that patient’s medical history on-hand to ensure the patient receives the appropriate care.”