Missouri Health Connection (MHC) this week announced the launch of its statewide health information network, providing services to more than 7,000 physicians, serving patients in 62 hospitals and more than 350 clinics in the Show-Me State.
This week’s grand opening is the culmination of almost three years of planning and execution on a Direct project as well as a record locator service and query exchange, says Mary Kasal,president and CEO of MHC, the state-designated entity in charge of health information exchange.
Kasal stresses that several early decisions were key to the success of the Missouri initiative. Stakeholders determined that MHC needed to be a nonprofit partnership that would have to be run as a business. It is a 501(c)(3) organization and is governed by a public-private board of directors. “It was also determined that providers pay an annual fee and we have matured that model,” she says.
Some states chose a path of providing funding for regional health information organizations (RHIOs). “We instead chose to focus on bringing healthcare organizations onto the statewide network,” she says. “We have two relatively active regional HIEs and we treat them like any other partners and want to see no barriers to data exchange.”
MHC currently processes more than 250,000 electronic transactions per day using the HealthShare system from vendor partner InterSystems. Electronic notifications can alert physicians when their patients are admitted to the hospital, and continuity of care documents can be securely exchanged between providers to reduce redundant medical tests. The enterprise master patient index already has 12 million patients loaded into it, mainly from three large health systems.
MHC is moving ahead with public health reporting. “We are going live with syndromic surveillance and lab reporting and we will tackle immunization reporting next,” she says. “It makes it easier for the state government because we can funnel all this data to them in a single pipe.”
MHC is in discussions with vendors about adding a patient portal to the HIE, Kasal adds.
The HIE also has been working on interstate data exchange. Initially it worked with Kansas and Nebraska on a pilot project involving Direct and now is working with Illinois, which is also a customer of InterSystems for Direct services, which makes sharing provider directories easier, Kasal explains. “We have had to do some work on consent policies and sensitive data where the laws are different in each state. ONC could help us with national standards in those areas.”
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