Maine health officials announced that some 2,000 providers participating in its health information exchange pilot project have begun using the medical-records network HealthInfoNet.
“We began phasing it in the later part of this month,” said Jim Harnar, a spokesman for the project.
The initial phase-in, which is expected to take place over the next several weeks, will allow 15 rural and urban hospitals and about 2,000 physicians shared access to patient records. Health officials plan to expand the medical-records network for use by all state providers following completion of the pilot project in mid-2010.
The electronic health-records database is expected to save Maine $50 million in annual healthcare costs by preventing unnecessary and duplicative tests, procedures, prescriptions and hospitalizations.
Despite a budget shortfall, state officials said that they managed to allocate $1.7 million in the 2010-11 budget to help fund the pilot project. Maine expects to receive matching federal funds for HealthInfoNet through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
The state has raised about $8 million through public and private funding sources to help pay for HealthInfoNet, and will need to raise another $12 million to build the statewide infrastructure, officials said. The network is expected to cost roughly $6 million a year to operate.
Maine joins Delaware and Vermont as the only states with statewide exchanges in operation, according to state officials.