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BOSTON – Massachusetts officials celebrated the launch of the state-wide Massachusetts Health Information Exchange with Massachusetts Democratic Govenor Deval Patrick and his physician sending his electronic health records across the state Tuesday morning, from Boston's Massachusetts General Hospital to Springfield's Bay State Medical Center.
Massachusetts' statewide HIE was created with the help of $16.9 million in federal funding awarded in August, and it was the first state to receive federal HIE funding.
“In Massachusetts we believe that access to affordable, quality health care is a public good, and launching a secure, cutting edge health information exchange is an important step in delivering on that,” Patrick said.
The HIE's launch was deemed so significant that Patrick distributed several golden spikes said to be from Promontory Point, Utah, where North America's transcontinental railroad was completed in 1869.
[See also: CDC girding to open its cloud to public health]
For Massachusetts' healthcare system, the launch of the HIE is a sort of "Golden Spike Part 2," as John Halamka, MD, CIO of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston and co-chair of the federal HIT Standards Committee, wrote on his blog.
Among the dozen or so other healthcare leaders at launch, Halamka also sent a personally significant bit of health data. With the consent of his wife, who has fought breast cancer, Halamka sent her health records from their base at Beth Israel to Partners in Health, an insurer, a primary care provider at Ruhke Medical Center and the Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative, an analytics services provider.
"Within seconds," Halamka wrote, "we broke down silos, demonstrating that care coordination, population health, and quality analytics based on healthcare information exchange is now possible in Massachusetts."
Massachusetts is expected to start the next phase of its HIE goals next year, with a focus on quality analytics, and by 2015 the exchange is set to allow for patient searches.