Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Draft Strategic Plan Released

Governor Edward G. Rendell’s Office of Health Care Reform issued a draft strategic plan for the Pennsylvania Health Information Exchange (PHIX) on November 30th. The draft strategic plan details how the state can best transition to an electronic system of health records and is requesting comments until December 20, 2009.

The adoption of health IT is a major component of the Governor’s comprehensive health care reform plan referred to as the “Prescription of Pennsylvania”. Up to $17 million is available in federal stimulus funding to pay for the infrastructure.

Hospitals and primary care providers are increasingly using health information systems across the state. The results of a 2008 survey of Pennsylvania hospitals showed that 84 percent of the state’s acute care hospitals are using some functionalities of an EHR, though only 2.4 percent had a comprehensive system in place to all clinical areas. The high adoption rate in hospitals is in part because 98 of the state’s 165 general acute care hospitals are part of larger health systems. Physician adoption of EMR/EHRs is proceeding more slowly with about 20 percent of physicians surveyed using at least some of the functions of an electronic system.

The Draft Strategic Plan addresses the following:

• Long term governance will be through a Public/Private partnership to be created through legislation

• The anticipated HITECH funding for Pennsylvania of $17.1 million plus the Governor’s current PHIX budget of $1 million will be used to implement PHIX beginning in 2010

• To address long term sustainability an assessment will be made on all medical claims paid by insurers to cover the costs of PHIX implementation and ongoing operations

• Pennsylvania will enter into an intergovernmental agreement with Delaware to leverage the existing Delaware Health Information Network contract for HIE services

• PHIX will work with the Pennsylvania Regional Extension Center to promote HIT adoption

• A detailed communications plan will be used to educate consumers and providers on using electronic records and the HIE

• PHIX infrastructure will meet the required federal and state standards for data security and integrity

• Except for super protected information, consent will be established based on existing laws and polices

The draft plan was developed by the Office of Health Reform in consultation with the PHIX Advisory Council, the PA eHealth Initiative, an outside advisory board comprised of health information experts and other stakeholders. The draft plan outlines how the commonwealth will govern, finance, and implement the initiative.

To read the draft plan, go to and to comment on the draft strategic plan, email