Stakeholders Map Out Next Tasks for HIE

The health information exchange revolution is under way in California.

“There is tremendous enthusiasm across the state for what’s happening in HIE,” according to David Lansky of the Pacific Business Group on Health, who spoke at yesterday’s Health Information Exchange Stakeholder Summit 2011 in Sacramento.

“We represent large purchasers of health insurance, so in a way it’s odd that we’re so involved in this,” Lansky said. “But we feel HIE is a critical, foundational support tool for transforming the health care delivery system.” The health care reform effort aims to make health care affordable and high-quality, he said, “And we can’t make it succeed without this project.”

David Maxwell-Jolly, undersecretary of California’s Health and Human Services department, told conference attendees that health care redesign presents an enormous challenge — and equally huge opportunity.

“We in California, and a nation as a whole, are seeing the dawning of an extraordinary moment in health care,” Maxwell-Jolly said. “In all the years I’ve been doing this, I’ve never seen such creativity in health care as I see now.”

Maxwell-Jolly likened the effort to building the Bay Bridge, where independent efforts have to be launched from different places and, with proper planning, meet up and align right in the middle. “California has always been a leader in technology,” he said. “We have the chance to shape the foundation for health care delivery for the next 20, 30 or 50 years.”

Linette Scott, California’s interim deputy secretary for Health Information Technology, is a physician so she knows firsthand the benefits of information technology in medicine.

“The decision support to deliver care is invaluable,” Scott said, referring to electronic reminders about billing codes and patient care. She said technology helps involve patients in their care in innumerable ways. “There is no way I’d practice now without an EHR,” she said. “There’s just no way. As people use it and get used to it, they’ll see how it makes patient care so much better.”

Scott is a board member of Cal eConnect, which put on the event to discuss problems and challenges faced by the HIE project in California. Cal eConnect solicited input on outstanding issues and possible solutions in about a dozen breakout groups.

Information and opinion delivered at the conference will be posted soon on Ca eConnect’s website, Scott said.

“The [health information exchange] transition is really happening,” Scott said. “It’s being funded. They are finite resources, but they are significant. And really, that’s what stimulus funds are supposed to do, stimulate — not to pay for everything, but to kick-start it. And that’s what’s happening.”

The San Diego Beacon Collaborative, for instance, launches its HIE on Dec. 1. Up to $4 billion in federal EHR incentive payments are one step closer to being delivered, she said. The state opened applications for that incentive money on Oct. 3, with hospitals eligible to apply first. So far, 141 California hospitals have registered for the program, Scott said.

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