“This is an important advancement for healthcare in Michigan,” said Doug Dietzman, executive director of Michigan Health Connect. “It means that most of the clinical information exchanged electronically throughout Michigan will be handled by this new, expanded network. Such coordination is vital to improving healthcare in this state and beyond.”
The health information exchanges—not to be confused with the health insurance exchanges under healthcare reform—are intended to help make it easier for hospitals and physicians to exchange patient information, thereby achieving lower costs and higher quality by better coordinating care and reducing service duplication.
Sharing patient data will help hospitals across the state from lower Michigan to the Upper Peninsula and hospitals in local markets.
For example, the University of Michigan Medical Center in Ann Arbor is part of Great Lakes and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Ann Arbor is a member of Michigan Health Connect, said Carol Parker, Great Lakes' executive director.
“Now both hospitals, serving the same community, can exchange clinical information with no technological barriers,” Parker said in a statement. “Being part of this agreement is important because it's the logical next step to providing optimal patient care.”
In 2006, former Gov. Jennifer Granholm approved a plan to create nine sub-state health information exchanges – online databases that allow competing medical providers to instantly share patient information in a secure format – and encourage the exchanges to experiment and grow within their regions.
Over time, because of lack of funding and competitive pressures, some exchanges closed and others have merged.
Now, the goal is for the surviving exchanges to eventually be interconnected with health insurance companies through the Michigan Health Information Network.
Nationally there are more than 250 health information exchanges, including 160 private exchanges, but less than 60 are exchanging data and only 40% of those receive sufficient revenue to cover expenses, according to reports.
Eventually, all state exchanges are expected to interconnect to form a national health information exchange. However, information technology challenges and different operating systems have slowed development.
"Michigan's two largest health info exchanges agree to share patient data" originally appeared in Crain's Detroit Business.