What's next for Massachusetts' HIE?

Laurance Stuntz, director of the MeHI, talks about road ahead
By Anthony Brino
09:42 AM

In October, Massachusetts policymakers, health officials and health IT leaders celebrated the proverbial golden spike hammered into the Commonwealth’s statewide health information exchange, with the governor having his records sent from a hospital in Boston to Springfield.

[See also: Massachusetts lands $17M to launch statewide HIE.]

Massachusetts health officials are calling the HIE a highway — hinting at its public service mission, as one of several tools the state hopes will help control healthcare spending, and at the public investment its received from the federal government.

Managed by the nonprofit Massachusetts eHealth Institute, or MeHI, the HIE launched a health internet service provider to connect providers as part of its first phase. Phases 2 and 3 — loosely following the stages of meaningful use — are designed to bring the state’s healthcare systems analytics and population health management tools, along with an Electronic Master Patient Index and record locator service.

Two months after the launch of the Massachusetts HIE, Laurance Stuntz, director of the MeHI, discusses the HIE’s journey so far and the road ahead. Formerly a senior vice president at the healthcare communications company NaviNet and a partner at Computer Science Corporation, Stuntz joined MeHI in May.

[See also: MAeHC tapped to lead New England Healthcare Exchange Network.]

Q: Aside from the health systems like Partners Healthcare and Beth Israel Deaconess that joined the HIE in October, about how many organizations have signed up for the HIE since then?

Stuntz: There’s over 40 organizations that are in our pipeline to bring on board, beyond the golden spike organizations. We’re working out the best way for them to connect and the use cases that they’re going to use. We’ve been very encouraged by the response from the provider community; we’ve got conversations going with health plans, providers and public health organizations.

Q: What are some of the most common use cases providers are signing up for?

Stuntz: There’s a couple. The most common I would say are related to transitions of care — for instance, discharge summaries from a hospital out to say a nursing home. One of the key areas that we’re looking at is the use of the highway as a tool to prevent readmissions — with the recent readmission penalties that [the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services] recently announced for hospitals that have too high a rate of 30 day readmissions. We’re looking to use the highway to close that loop and make sure information gets out to the nursing homes or gets out to the primary care provider. Another key use case that we’re looking at is public health data submissions — using the highway as the primary vehicle to submit data to any public health agency, whether that be statewide or the Boston Public Health Commission. We’re also looking at referrals as another key use case.

Q: There’s three ways organizations can connect to the HIE: direct-enabled EHR systems, Local Area Network devices and the secure webmail portal. What are most using now?

Stuntz: All the golden spike participants are using the LAN device, and there’s a new release of the software coming out this month that will enable the webmail component. We’ve got a grant program for EHR vendors to build in Direct connections.

Q: What are some of the use case and implementation goals for 2013 and 2014?

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