The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a July 11 news release highlighting the efforts of 10 state health information exchange (HIE) programs that have set up infrastructure to enable the exchange of health information among providers caring for patients who are displaced from their homes in natural disasters. SHARE is currently building an interstate Direct connection that will allow Arkansas to connect with the 10 states that have already announced their partnership in the HHS program.
See the news release below.
States prepare for seamless exchange of health records after disasters
Ten state HIE programs have established infrastructure for secure exchange of health information
As part of an effort to help make sure their residents’ health information is available after a hurricane or other wide-spread disaster, four Gulf states have partnered with six states in the East and Midwest to help patients and providers access critical health information when they are unable to visit their regular doctors or hospitals.
Working with the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), health information exchange (HIE) programs in Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia, Michigan, Wisconsin, and West Virginia today announced their partnership to allow for the exchange of health information among providers caring for patients who are displaced from their homes.
All of the state HIE programs participating in the initiative currently have established at least one operational interstate connection and are working with other states including Arkansas and Mississippi. The 10-state initiative is being made possible through information technology infrastructure provided through Direct. Direct is a tool developed by an ONC-led collaboration with broad health information technology (IT) industry participation that allows for the secure exchange of health information over the Internet.
“Through disasters like Hurricane Katrina and Hurricane Sandy and large tornadoes in Alabama and Joplin, Missouri, in 2011 and more recently in Moore, Oklahoma, we have learned the importance of protecting patients’ health records through electronic tools like health information exchanges,” said Farzad Mostashari, M.D., national coordinator for health IT. “Patients are better off when states and health information exchange organizations work together to ensure that health information can follow patients when they need it the most.”
A guidebook, published by the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, can also help primary care clinicians connect their patients’ electronic health records to a local HIE hub and regional health information organizations. The guide, Regional Health e-Decisions: A Guide to Connect Health Information Exchange in Primary Care, is available at www.healthit.ahrq.gov/RegionalHealtheDecisionsGuide.pdf.
The Southeast Regional Health IT and Health Information Exchange Collaboration (SERCH) is leading the collaborative effort. SERCH was funded through ONC’s State Health Policy Consortium and its members include Alabama, Arkansas, Louisiana, Georgia, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia. Since SERCH began in April 2010, similar collaborations, using a variety of methods, have helped to resolve cross-border barriers toward facilitating the multi-state exchange of health information.
In 2012, SERCH completed an analysis of barriers to health information exchange and issued recommendations for developing HIE infrastructure to support disaster preparedness and response. In their final report, SERCH recommended a phased approach to use existing data sources such as health plans and state agencies to overcome barriers to HIE across states. The report can be found at http://www.healthit.gov/sites/default/files/pdf/SERCH-White-Paper.pdf
“The SERCH effort will enable health care providers to contact a patient’s health plans and available health care providers for information about the patient’s medical history when it is most needed,” said Nicole Lurie, M.D., assistant secretary for Preparedness and Response. “But patients can help protect their own information and that of their children by saving it electronically.”
Photo courtesy of NOAA.
The Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Programs provide incentive payments to eligible professionals, eligible hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) as they adopt, implement, upgrade or demonstrate meaningful use of certified EHR technology. Eligible professionals can receive up to $44,000 through the Medicare EHR Incentive Program and up to $63,750 through the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. SHARE will help providers satisfy several meaningful use requirements in stages one and two.
Below are the most current EHR Incentive Program payments made to Arkansas health care providers since 2011:
SHARE has partnered with three electronic health record system (EHR) vendors – eClinicalWorks, Greenway and GE Centricity – and negotiated vendor fees to save providers that use these EHR systems tens of thousands of dollars to interface their EHR systems with SHARE.
Through one connection to SHARE, eClinicalWorks, Greenway and GE Centricity EHR practices will be able to receive clinical data from any participating hospital or lab, automate reporting to the Arkansas Department of Health, and exchange health information with other participating providers. This is a major change from when a practice had to buy, build and maintain multiple EHR interfaces to connect to different data partners.
We conducted an informational webinar in June for practices that use the eClinicalWorks EHR, and we will soon announce details about the Greenway and GE Centricity connections and what it means for practices using those EHR systems.
As part of the SHARE Connection program, we are reaching out to all EHR vendors with a presence in Arkansas and negotiating statewide contracts like what we’ve arranged with these vendors.
We are pleased to announce that ARcare has signed a SHARE participation agreement and has committed to joining SHARE. ARcare is the first community health center to join the Arkansas health information exchange (HIE). The following 24 locations will be participating:
ARcare is connecting its electronic health record (EHR) system to SHARE and should begin exchanging patient health information through SHARE within the coming months.
The statewide HIE will allow ARcare health care providers to electronically access and share patient health information with University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) in Little Rock, North Arkansas Regional Medical Center (NARMC) in Harrison, Jefferson Regional Medical Center (JRMC) in Pine Bluff and other providers that use SHARE.
For example, if an ARcare patient is treated at the UAMS Emergency Room, ARcare will receive an automatic notification and details of the treatment for follow-up. SHARE provides access to critical patient health information that can improve the quality of care and health outcomes.
We will follow up with another announcement when ARcare is fully "live" and using SHARE.
ARcare joins a growing network of hospitals and practices that are signing up to participate. As of July 2013, 5 hospitals, 39 community health centers, one behavioral health entity and 10 physician practices are using or implementing SHARE.