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Arizona HIE Eliminates Fees for Community Providers

September 2, 2015
by David Raths
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Board seeks to eliminate a key barrier to participation

To boost participation rates, Arizona’s statewide health information exchange (HIE) has announced changes to its funding model, eliminating the fee for community providers effective Oct. 1, 2015.

Operated by the nonprofit Arizona Health-e Connection (AzHeC), the HIE is called “The Network.” Under the new funding model for the 2016 budget, approved at a board meeting in late August, hospitals and health plans will cover the portion of operating expenses previously covered by community providers. Community providers include federally qualified health centers, rural health clinics, primary care and specialty providers in private practices, public health, correctional facilities and first responders.

“Participation fees are based on the total number of participating entities and organizations,” said Melissa Kotrys, CEO of AzHeC, in a prepared statement. “Although hospitals and health plans are taking on a greater percent of operating costs, hospitals and health plans will see lowers fees in 2016 because the total number of participating hospitals and health plans has increased.”

Frank Marini, CIO of Tucson Medical Center and board chairman of The Network, stressed the importance of provider participation and provider data as key factors in the board’s decision. “Although we have seen steady growth in provider participation, the board wanted to eliminate a key barrier to provider participation in The Network,” Marini said in a prepared statement. “With more Arizona providers participating in ACOs and all providers facing a future of value-based reimbursement, it is increasingly important to improve care coordination and maintain more comprehensive patient records through participation in the statewide HIE,” Marini said. “We not only want to remove a critical barrier to participation, we also recognize the value of securely sharing valuable patient data with community providers.”