White paper outlines healthcare interoperability goals

By Kyle Hardy
10:56 AM

A new white paper outlines national healthcare goals on healthcare information exchange, regional health information organizations and leveraging stimulus money to achieve “meaningful use” of electronic health records.

“Fulfilling ARRA: A Collaborative Approach to Connected Health,” a white paper released by San Jose, Calif.-based Axolotl as part of the Healthcare Stimulus Exchange National Roadshow 2010, outlines efforts to educate healthcare organizations on how to optimize the use of healthcare IT to receive stimulus money allocated by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

According to the white paper, the distribution of ARRA funds will help drive health IT adoption, particularly the adoption and implementation of electronic health records, as well as aid in the development of an interoperability infrastructure. This includes the creation of health information exchanges and regional health information organizations.

 Researchers said stimulus funds are expected to help organization connect to a nationwide health information network – the federal government's interoperable health information infrastructure.

The white paper also outlines two new grant programs set up in 2009 by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT:

  • The State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program: Created to support states in establishing health information exchange capacity among healthcare providers in their jurisdiction
  • The Health Information Technology Extension Program: Provides grants to establish Health Information Technology Regional Extension Centers (HITREC), which will offer technical assistance, guidance and best practices to healthcare providers to derive “meaningful use” of electronic health records.

“HHS continues to outreach to all organizations, including regional connected health efforts, as funds from ARRA become available,” said David Sayen, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ regional administrator for Region IX. 

CMS is conducting a five-year EHR demonstration project in Louisiana, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Maryland/Washington, D.C. to provide guidance and support for providers implementing EHRs, said researchers.

Organizations that have developed individual health IT adoption initiatives that are mentioned in the white paper include:

  • The Indian Health Service is developing a personal health record and deploying its EHR to more than 200 sites, as well as plugging into the NHIN through the NHIN-Connect gateway platform.
  • Anakam, a provider of security solutions for eHealthcare, and has been helping HIEs and regional health information organizations adopt patient privacy and information-sharing security policies.
  • National law firm Davis Wright Tremaine  is involved in initiatives to direct federal stimulus funds to California. As a participant on the Steering Group of Markle Connecting for Health, DWT is trying to help shape the definition of “meaningful use."
  • The Utah Health Information Network, a coalition of payers, providers and other stakeholders brought together to reduce the cost and improving the quality of healthcare, is building a statewide HIE and applying to be the Utah and Nevada Health Information Regional Extension Center.
  • The Colorado Regional Health Information Organization, a state-designated HIE, is exploring sustainability with a fee-structure business model, according to Executive Director Phyllis Albritton.
  • The California eHealth Collaborative, created in February 2009, is assessing the capabilities of its members to directly connect to the NHIN via the NHIN Connect platform.

Collaboration has been the common thread in the development of HIEs and RHIOs, said experts. HIEs are the building block and, once operational, will enable healthcare organizations to achieve the vision set forth by ARRA of a connected health infrastructure, said experts.

The full white paper can be found at http://www.healthstimulusx.com/san-francisco/