Sunday, September 20, 2009

Ohio's Health Tech Actions

Ohio Governor Ted Strickland has designated the non-profit Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP) to implement and oversee a statewide health information exchange to improve access to data and patient information. The partnership will also collaborate with industry experts to provide educational, technical, and procurement services to healthcare providers.

OHIP is currently a subsidiary of BioOhio and has its own independent board. The initial board includes not only representation from BioOhio, but also the Ohio Hospital Association, the Ohio State Medical Association, the Ohio Osteopathic Association, and state government. In the future, the partnership will expand its board to include representation from healthcare payers, the business community, the university system behavioral health providers, community health centers, and consumers.

The state is planning to dedicate $10.1 million in General Revenue Fund dollars to develop health IT and to use for other healthcare quality improvement initiatives. The state will use $8 million as matching funds to apply for newly announced federal health IT dollars. An RFP for the design, architecture, and delivery of services should be awarded by the end of 2009.

The Ohio Department of Insurance will work with OHIP to oversee the use of the funding. “Healthcare experts and stakeholders have consistently identified the utilization of health IT as a critical component to lowering costs and improving quality,” said Department of Insurance Director, Mary Jo Hudson. “By utilizing a self-sustaining, non-profit entity with broad-based representation, the state will be able to establish a successful statewide health information exchange and greatly encourage the adoption of EMRs.

To help encourage and support the broad adoption of health IT in the state, several ideas have been considered. Options such as forming purchasing collaboratives could help drive down the costs for small providers, establishing standards for individuals and corporations to help them to provide IT support services, forming a Center of Excellence to act as a trusted source for IT information, and making loans available to help providers purchase EMR tools and services have been discussed.

The state is proud of their recent HIT initiatives that so far have established and their several functioning RHIOs such as HealthBridge, HealthLink, and others. Also, Clinical and Translational Science Collaboratives were set up at Case Western Reserve, Ohio State, and the University of Cincinnati.

In September, a new initiative was announced to connect the nation’s first live, multi-region clinical information exchange. Three Indiana and Ohio organizations are now sending clinical and test results, reports, and other medical information among their health information exchanges. These exchanges include HealthBridge in Cincinnati, Ohio, Indiana Health Information Exchange in Indianapolis, and HealthLINC in Bloomington Indiana.

These organizations have been exchanging health information securely within their regions for years, but what is new is that now they are exchanging information among these regions. These health information organizations connect more than 15,000 physicians, 50 hospitals, and 12 million patient records.

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