The state of Oregon is creating a "health records bank" for all Medicaid patients and is soliciting the public for help on how to design the new electronic system.
At four meetings this month in Salem, Ore., beginning this week, companies with health records and electronic information exchange knowledge are demonstrating their products and services for the public. At the end of the demonstrations, the public can ask questions and make recommendations.
The Oregon Department of Human Services is developing the health records bank for more than 400,000 residents on Medicaid. Patients will be able to access their personal health information through a secure Web site. Providers will be able to see recent and historical information about their Medicaid patients.
The project, expected to be online by fall 2009, is being funded by a two-year, $5.5 million federal grant. Oregon was among 41 states to receive grants aimed at fostering meaningful changes to the Medicaid program for low-income people. Oregon is the only state using the money to develop electronic health records, according to the state Department of Human Services.
The grant includes funding for training patients and providers. Because it will be Web-based, providers won't likely need to pay for extra equipment, but the ideal would be to integrate it into providers' existing EHR systems, said Greg Wenneson, project manager for the state. The first request for proposals will go out to vendors in about four months, he said.
"What we learn also may be helpful in supporting Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski's goal of establishing a secure statewide system of electronic health records for all Oregonians," Jim Edge, state Medicaid director, said in a news release.
In May 2006, Kulongoski made health information technology more of a priority in the state by appointing a health IT coordinator and seeking further federal funding to help physicians in the state adopt EHRs.