I recently had an opportunity to speak with Cheryl M. Stephens, who is CEO of the Community Health Information Collaborative (CHIC), Minnesota’s state-certified health information organization. In her view, health information exchange has an important role to play with initiatives such as accountable care. That’s because being connected gives the provider a fuller picture of the patient, and thereby the ability to make better decisions on the patient’s next treatment plan or prescriptions they should be taking. Stephens, who used to run a health maintenance organization, says that one advantage of an HIE is that having better information on a patient, regardless of where the patient is being treated in the provider network, should help with both cost analysis and care coordination.
In 2011, CHIC merged with another Minnesota HIE, the Minnesota Health Information Exchange, LLC, which was formed by five major payer groups in the state. One of the agreements of the merger was that the payers would exchange data with CHIC through a secure patient data feed. In her view, one major advantage of the merger is the ability to share both clinical data and claims data for the providers to look at, based on what they need to see. “There are places you need both, in order to have a solid picture of what is happening with the patient,” she says.
The merger has been educational. “Some of their board members came onto our board, and it’s been a wonderful thing,” she says. “They learned a lot when they were putting their [HIE] together, and that’s been informing us as we progress. It has been a very good thing for HIE in Minnesota.”
What Stephens spoke about brought to mind the article “Playing Nice in Healthcare,” in the April/May issue of HCI, in which Rajiv Leventhal discussed a trend toward a more collaborative relationship between payers and provider organizations. To me, CHIC is an example of one organization that is doing just that.