Saturday, May 3, 2008

MN e-Health Initiatives

The Minnesota e-Health Initiative’s advisory committee along with consumers and industry representatives are working on a statewide plan to have all providers and care delivery settings use electronic health records by 2015. The advisory committee is working on health data standards, ways to ensure that HIT will lead to improvements in quality, and ways to modernize the public health information system.

A report submitted in February 2008 outlined advances occurring in 2007. Nearly all the hospitals and two thirds of the primary care clinics have implemented or are in the process of implementing EHRs.

The state has made progress with their e-Health grants that support the adoption of interoperable EHRs in rural settings and in inner city community clinics. Seven million dollars was made available in grants over the biennium for planning and implementation projects. Another $6.3 million was made available in no interest loans.

So far, $3.5 million in grants have been awarded to 16 community e-health collaboratives. Seven planning projects up to $50,000 each and nine implementation grants for up to $750,000 were awarded.

$1.5 million was appropriated in FY 07 to fund six collaboratives to help assess and plan projects. Of the six assessment/planning grants awarded in 2007, three received implementation grants in 2008.

In addition, eligibility criteria and application instructions have been developed for the no interest loans program with the initial round of preliminary loan requests reviewed. Efforts have been made to leverage federal and other funds to augment legislative appropriations.

The initial e-health grant projects provided critical information such as:

  • Implementing HIT is very complex and almost always takes longer than anticipated
  • Collaboration is essential among health information “trading partners” within a community and should be initiated early in the planning process
  • Thorough and systematic planning is critical and must engage the staff that will be impacted by the EHRs early in the process
  • Using existing tools, tips, and templates saves time and resources
  • Contracting with a trusted consultant familiar with EHR planning and implementation is indispensable in saving time and avoiding costly mistakes
  • Funding HIT adoption in addition to other capital expenditures is a major financial strain for rural and small health organizations
  • Adequately preparing and engaging the workforce is a critical success factor
  • The best implementations are those that don’t just automate existing paper process but take the time to completely re-design how business is done

To read the entire report, go to