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Where Healthcare Reform Meets HIE

July 28, 2010
by Mark Hagland
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Web-Exclusive Interview: David Cochran, M.D.,President and  CEO, Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL)

HCI: How would you context VITL in the landscape of HIEs nationwide?

Cochran: There are very few fully deployed HIEs outside of integrated delivery systems. Probably the closest thing we see is organizations like the Indiana Health Exchange. They’re probably the most mature. Cincinnati Health Bridge has really done a lot of excellent work, including operating in multiple states. I would say that there are a handful of truly mature ones; and then we’re one among the next tier, where we have an approach, are exchanging information, and have a roadmap for regional information exchange, though we’re still doing work. And a good part of the country is still in the mode of trying to figure out what to do and how to get it done. And there are two phases to that. Our organization went through that before I arrived; that was the discussion of what made sense for VITL and for the state of Vermont. And at the same time, hospitals have had to figure out their policies on privacy and on data exchange. So a good part of what we’ve been doing is working through those issues with the individual institutions. And as I’ve said, if every single hospital has a different set of policies, they’ll all have to individually negotiate with all the other organizations, and each negotiation has to be separate, it just won’t work, so we need to be a policy hub as well. And they understand that. And it’s not easy. But we have agreements with 11 or 12 of the 14 hospitals in the state, so we’re well along the path. But that’s a period of time during which the practices and legislators and others aren’t seeing a lot of what they want to see, which is information exchange.

HCI: So there’s a lot of hard work involved?

Cochran: Absolutely. But everyone recognizes that this will involve a lot of hard work, so the challenge is getting that hard work done quickly. But what’s really good about this is the tie-in between moving this information in support of healthcare reform, and engaging the physician practices, and I hope that that comes through.



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