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Connecticut Legislature Considers Giving Statewide HIE Another Try

May 26, 2015
by David Raths
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Earlier effort failed despite $4.3 million in federal grant funding
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Although it is surrounded by states that have had relative success with statewide health information exchange efforts, Connecticut has struggled to develop an HIE. Last year it pulled the plug on its earlier efforts after spending $4.3 million in federal grant money. But legislators are taking another stab at it. Last week the state Senate passed a comprehensive healthcare bill that would establish a statewide HIE, according to the Connecticut Mirror, an online publication. 

The Mirror story quotes Senate Minority Leader Len Fasano, R-North Haven, as warning that the lack of a neutral, statewide system can give large health systems a business advantage, steering patients to other providers within the same system.

In written testimony earlier this year, Yale New Haven Health System noted that an earlier form of the bill did not take into account what many hospitals are already doing to share data and provide access to healthcare agencies and community physicians.

Between 2010 and 2014, the Health Information Technology Exchange of CT, or HITE-CT, spent $4.3 million unsuccessfully trying to create an exchange before being shut down by the state.

A state auditor’s report noted that the exchange was never able to provide services to stakeholders and thus, never developed a self-sustaining revenue stream.

“HITE-CT was unable to meet its strategic and operational schedule primarily due to its inability to adapt quickly to changing market conditions. The exchange’s board of directors recognized that the terms in the original contract with its vendor required significant modification to reflect the evolving market place for an integrated statewide electronic health information infrastructure,” the audit said. “A lengthy renegotiation period with its primary vendor reduced the exchange’s options for achieving sustainability. The resulting amended contract with the vendor had a reduced scope for deliverables. It no longer included the establishment of an operational statewide health information exchange that could provide desired revenue producing services to stakeholders through fees and other assessments.”

The responsibility for health information exchange efforts rests with the state Department of Social Services, and the bill allows DSS to propose an alternative solution to a centralized statewide HIE, the Mirror article said. The bill now goes to the Connecticut House for consideration.