Physicians Foundation launches HIE fund for physician interoperability

The nonprofit group is joining with six state medical societies to incentivize practicing physicians to link their EHRs to health information exchanges.
By Benjamin Harris
10:33 AM

Financial barriers preventing buy-in to a health information exchange just got lower in six states. In partnership with the Physicians Foundation, the medical associations and information networks in those states will offer funding grants to any physician with an electronic health record that wants to send and receive interoperable patient data.

The program, which is starting out with $500,000 in funding this year, seeks to increase physician participation in HIE by covering connection costs for physician practices.

Boosting the number of HIE users leads to a greater amount of patient data being accessible regardless of where they sought care, which advocates say drives greater choice in healthcare and alleviates physician burnout.

The societies partnering with the Foundation are the Connecticut State Medical Society, Medical Association of Georgia, Louisiana State Medical Society, the Missouri State Medical Association, Medical Society of New Jersey and the South Carolina Medical Association.

Freeing data from an isolated system means patients don't have to start a whole new record with a different physician – who in turn is relieved from spending hours navigating computer screens in a hunt for information. This allows for patient freedom and lets physicians practice medicine instead of acting as digital sleuths.

As interoperability use cases in healthcare expand, the degree of coordination required has grown vastly beyond what phone calls and faxes can accomplish. While but while that connectivity is on the rise, the percentage of health systems that are actually exchanging and using data remains decidedly low.

Especially on the ambulatory practice side, there are many physicians who aren't well-educated about interoperability and may not even know it is possible. Helping subsidize connection to HIEs and expanding the pool of educated physicians who use them will enable a greater standardization of data capture and sharing.

"Our national survey of physicians tells us EHRs are the least satisfying part of physicians' jobs, and oftentimes, a leading factor in burnout among America's physicians," said Gary Price, MD, president of The Physicians Foundation.

The group is "proud to lead an initiative that will help alleviate unnecessary burdens on both physicians and patients," he added. "Through improved information sharing, The Physicians Foundation Interoperability Fund will further enable physicians to be their patients' strongest advocate and partner in decision-making for their care."

Digital Transformation in Healthcare

In May, we'll talk to experts and professionals on the front lines about what's really happening today with the digital transformation in healthcare and what hospital executives need to be doing right now.

Benjamin Harris is a Maine-based freelance writer and and former new media producer for HIMSS Media.
Twitter: @BenzoHarris.

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