Sixteen regional and statewide health information exchange organizations
have signed on to a collaborative effort to build trust and remove barriers to robust sharing of patient data.
The effort comports with a decade-old plan to link regional health information organizations into a coast-to-coast health information network. For now, though, the consortium's focus is swapping data among states.
“The goal his to ensure important patient information is available at the point of care,” said Laura McCrary, executive director of the Topeka-based Kansas Health Information Network, one of the participants. “We recognize our patients cross state lines and our health information organizations are regional or state based and we have to connect those organizations together.”
Several of the consortium members are already connected with other RHIOs, McCrary said. Hers, for example, has an established link with Lewis and Clark Health Information Exchange, based in Kansas City, Mo., and is now connecting with CORHIO and Missouri Health Connect.
Connections by the consortium will use the federally developed Direct secure messaging protocol and the more robust Cross-Community Access profile (XCA) for queries and responses developed by the health IT industry consortium Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise, or IHE.
“The technology is the easy part,” McCrary said. “It's the agreements on policy and privacy and security that are the hard parts.”
All members have signed a charter indicating their willingness to collaborate. The next step is to elect officers and then work out the details of a data-sharing agreement that handles governance, privacy and security, and the secondary use of data, which they intend to have in place this summer.
Covering the expenses of the intra- and interstate data queries and responses will be up to the organizations, McCrary said. One potential for revenue is from pooled data.
“I think this organization provides the opportunities for large research-based companies to really address a large group of HIOs rather than going one by one,” McCrary said.
The partners in the newly announced Mid-States Consortium of Health Information Organizations are:
- Colorado Regional Health Information Organization, Community Health Information Collaborative (Minnesota)
- Coordinated Care Oklahoma, Health Information Network of Arizona,
- HealthShare Montana, Idaho Health Data Exchange
- Iowa Health Information Network
- Kansas Health Information Network
- Missouri Health Connection
- MyHealth Access Network (Oklahoma)
- Nebraska Health Information Initiative
- North Dakota Health Information Network, Quality Health Network (Colorado)
- South Dakota Health Link
- Southeast Texas Health System's Operator Provided Health Information Exchange
- SOPHIE; and Secure Medical Records Transfer Network, or SMRTNET (Oklahoma).
The Tulsa, Okla.-based Community Service Council, a regional and state healthcare policy and research organization, also joined the consortium as a support organization.
In 2004, the first head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS, Dr. David Brailer, proposed developing what was then called the National Health Information Network, or NHIN, by creating and then linking a series of regional health information organizations, or RHIOs. In the decade since, both the proposed NHIN and RHIOs themselves have undergone multiple name changes
. Follow Joseph Conn on Twitter: @MHJConn