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Moving Forward with Consumer Engagement in Kentucky

May 7, 2013
by Gabriel Perna
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In a recent webinar, leaders involved with the Kentucky Health Information Exchange (KHIE) talked about the organization’s partnership with the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC). This collaboration is an effort to get providers in the state to better engage their patients, in accordance with Stages 2 and 3 of the government’s mandated Meaningful Use program.

One of the ways KHIE has done is this is by buying 13 licenses of NeHC’s eHealth Readiness Tool (CeRT) and giving them to providers throughout the state. The 13 providers, which were announced during the webinar, will be given access to tool for one year, according to Gary Ozanich, Ph.D., the chair of business development and finance committee, Northern Kentucky University. The 13 were selected out of 48 possible providers who applied for the licenses.

The CeRT provides organizations with an organizational assessment, by having leaders answer questions related to consumer engagement. It determines an organization’s quantifiable capabilities in this area, provides them with support through education, technology, and infrastructure. It also provides an organization analysis through real-time progress reports.

According to Ozanich, the CeRT is the “quickest on ramp to the consumer engagement part sof Stages 2 and 3 of Meaningful Use,” for most providers within the state. He says its cost effective, helps providers avoid extra consultant expenses, and it’s mapped to NeHC’s Patient Engagement Framework. Thus, he says, providers don’t have to reinvent the concept. He also says the CeRT is easy to use, iterative, and comprehensive.

“Hopefully it can drive down [healthcare] expenses within the Commonwealth of Kentucky,” Dr. Ozanich said during the webinar. He did mention that CeRT would be independent of KHIE, and the data aggregated by the tool wouldn’t in any way be accessible by government officials.

Just to hammer home the organization’s belief in the CeRT, KHIE itself bought a few licenses that it will use for planning and implementation. The Kentucky Regional Extension Center (REC) will use the licenses for training. According to Mary Gaetz, chief of staff and patient engagement lead of KHIE, it will be used for required ONC assessment activities by KHIE.

Those who didn’t win the award, Gaetz encouraged to buy a license of the CeRT anyway. Both her and Ozanich said the CeRT is not too costly and worth the return on investment (ROI).

In addition to this initiative, Gaetz spoke of the organization’s efforts to increase patient engagement within the state through the development of a patient portal with a sub-contractor of the Norwalk, Ct.-based, Xerox. Gaetz said once KHIE gets clarification from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) that provider-contributed data will count towards their Meaningful Use requirement, she says, it will “get this moving forward.”

The portal, Gaetz said, is meant for providers who can’t afford to buy portals on their own. It’s meant to assist the providers who don’t have the resources and are serving underserved communities.