Saturday, March 17, 2012

Maine HIT Strategy to Share Info

Recently, the State of Maine and HealthInfoNet received a $600,000 contract to help support electronic sharing of health records among behavioral health providers and general medical providers in the state. Under the contract, HealthInfoNet will build the technical infrastructure needed to facilitate secure EHR sharing. This will include connecting behavioral health providers to the statewide HIE and developing a secure provider only email service.

The contract was funded by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, HRSA, and the Center for Integrated Health Solutions (CIHS). Maine was one of only five states to be selected for funding along with Kentucky, Illinois, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island.

The contract will provide 25 behavioral healthcare organizations and 200 individual Maine providers with new ways to securely share medical records including the use of the HIE to share behavioral health issues and information on general medical care.

By the end of 2011, the state of Maine’s HealthInfoNet had 32 hospitals, representing 90 percent of the state’s inpatient and emergency room utilization, 58 ambulatory practices and five FQHCs participating in Maine’s clinical data exchange. Approximately 1,080,000 patients are enrolled. This number continues to grow as more hospitals and provider organizations join the HIE.

As Maine began initiating their statewide HIT strategy, it became evident that greater attention needed to be devoted to coordinating emerging clinical information systems within the mental health and substance abuse provider community.

Until a recent legal change, behavioral health provider organizations were unable to participate in the state HIE. Legislation passed by the Maine State Legislature in 2011, will now allow patients to choose if they want to share records created by their psychiatrist with their primary care doctor or others via HealthInfoNet’s system.

“True healthcare integration and coordination won’t work unless relevant clinical information can be shared in a secure manner across behavioral health and physical health sectors” according to John Edwards, PHD, a statewide behavioral health IT taskforce member.