By Patty Enrado, Healthcare IT News
Of the more than $100 million that California will receive from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act for healthcare, the California Health and Human Services Agency will use $38.8 million to build a statewide health information exchange (HIE).
The grant for HIE comes out to be approximately $1 per resident for the populous state, an amount many local industry leaders felt is insufficient to get the job done. "We're going to need significant funding to have ubiquitous health information exchange, to fulfill the vision of having information safely and securely reach all corners of the healthcare delivery system and individuals," said Jonah Frohlich, deputy secretary of Health Information Technology for CHHSA.
Nonetheless, Frohlich said, "The grant gives us the foundation." The state has basic building blocks in communities across the state upon which to build the foundation, he said.
Aside from the handful of HIEs in California, CHHSA sees building blocks in healthcare systems such as Kaiser Permanente, the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, Long Beach Memorial and other hospitals with basic HIE support to ambulatory providers and local physicians, he said.
CHHSA is moving quickly to complete operational plans by the March 31 deadline, he said. In the meantime, attendees to the HIMSS 2010 Annual Conference and Exhibition in Atlanta, Feb. 28 through March 4, can witness what Frohlich calls the "California Story" being played out at the Interoperability Showcase, a signature event at HIMSS10.
The Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange, Long Beach Network for Health and East Kern County Integrated Technology Association (EKCITA) (pdf) will share continuity of care documents using the NHIN specification. The three different sites, all using different applications, will be able to "talk with each other" using the NHIN standards for data exchange, explained Bill Beighe, CIO of Physicians Medical Group of Santa Cruz County and CEO of the Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange.
The demonstration highlights connectivity, but it also shows that connectivity can be achieved among disparate systems - a real-world situation across the country. Beighe noted that the demonstration is part of the bigger California story. Other HIEs in the state are involved in collaborative initiatives, including Kaiser Permanente and the Dept. of Veterans Affairs' record-sharing project. Using the CONNECT open-source software, which was developed for the Federal Health Architecture as a gateway to NHIN, Redwood MedNet out of Mendocino County can share patient information with Thayer County Health Services in Hebron, Neb.
While nearly $40 million in and of itself won't be enough to build out a statewide HIE, it will help connect the building blocks that already exist in the Golden State, Frohlich said.