Health Information Exchange Featured Article

August 06, 2012

Massachusetts Gets $17M to Set Up Nation's First Health Information Exchange

We’re used to running to ATMs when we need money. But if you live in Massachusetts, a very similar set-up may allow doctors to offer you more coordinated care very soon – all because of an almost $17 million federal grant to begin building the country’s first healthcare portal that will work much like online banking, according to a story by Rachel Zimmerman.

The project will allow providers, hospitals and others involved in patient care to exchange clinical data via a secure statewide network, according to a statement from the office of Governor Deval Patrick. The network will encrypt information to ensure safety and require patient consent. Patients will be able to log on in later phases of the project.

The nation’s first Health Information Exchange (HIE), the centerpiece of the Obama Administration’s health reform act, will use technology to allow doctors, hospitals and labs to log in from any location to share notes, talk and post patient records.

Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby, MD, says connecting a patient’s providers will save money and improve care.

“Providers could have access to the same information at the same time so that there’s no delay in developing a coordinated plan for someone who has a major illness,” Bigby told Zimmerman in the story.

“When fully implemented, this technology will support our goals of providing high quality care while slowing the growth of costs,” said Patrick. “The healthcare industry is a vital part of the Massachusetts economy, and I thank the Obama Administration for the continued support.”

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to receive federal funding participation approval through CMS to create an HIE. The funding will complement additional efforts underway to support Health Information Technology advances in the Commonwealth.

“This exchange will serve as a statewide health care information highway, that will connect every payer, provider and patient to a single technology backbone,” said Dr. Bigby. “This will create the infrastructure providers and hospitals need to move towards a more integrated, global model of care.”

The Obama Administration announced last week that it was ready to award about $220 million in federal funding to 13 states – including states with Republican governors, many of whom have said they won’t set up HIEs, such as Alabama, Arizona and Idaho – that made progress in setting up a health insurance exchange, according to

Edited by Braden Becker
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