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Health IT vendors and state health IT officers, speaking back to back Wednesday at a Bipartisan Policy Center symposium, both seemed to agree that new waves of health information exchange (HIE) and interoperability are on are the horizon. But how exactly HIE advances are going to evolve regionally and nationally is hard to predict.
“If anybody tells you that they know exactly how this is going to play out at the state level, I’d challenge that,” Carol Robinson, Oregon’s health IT coordinator and administrator at the office of health information technology, said during one panel.
Robinson recently led an overhaul of Oregon’s Medicaid system. The state received a waiver from the federal government to create coordinated care organizations for Medicaid recipients. As part of it, providers have to meet a various electronic health record (EHR) and HIE metrics.
[Also from BPC event: Mostashari's 3 reasons to be 'optimistic this time' and Physicians cite business case for HIE]
It’s a phased approach, Robinson said, that isn’t overly prescriptive.
Vendors have the sense, too, that they are part of a technological shift. The capabilities of health software and data analysis are increasing almost annually, Mark Segal, vice president of government and industry affairs at GE, said.
Added Doug Gentile, MD, chief medical officer at Allscripts Healthcare Solutions: “We’re in the early stages of one of the fastest transformations of any industry in history."
“As we make the shift to value-based care, the business case for information sharing becomes front and center,” continued Gentile, who also practices one day a week in the ER at the Fletcher Allen hospital in Burlington, VT. The challenge for policy, he said, is to turn “interoperability into an ecosystem for innovation” — opening up the data for opportunities to create economic value and improve healthcare outcomes.
Hunt Blair is Vermont’s state health IT coordinator and deputy commissioner at the office of health reform. Echoing Gentile’s ideas from an earlier discussion, he said that “HIE is fundamentally disruptive” — changing health business models and practices, for the better many argue, but in the process leaving some health systems treading water as they try to keep up.
As part of the Green Mountain State’s larger health policy overhaul, which includes a somewhat controversial aim to implement a single payer system, the state government has been trying to help providers adopt electronic health records and HIE technologies with various funding programs, Blair explained.
“There’s no barrier to entry for provider organizations to participate,” Blair said.