Sunday, June 10, 2012

Kansas HIE to go Live

The state of Kansas has just broken ground on developing their statewide digital health records exchange. Dr. Robert Moser, Secretary of the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and a member of the Kansas Health Information Exchange (KHIE) expects the exchange to go live July 1, 2012. About a third of Kansas patients will receive care from a provider who is or will be connected to the exchange in the near future.

Since April, many healthcare providers and hospitals are participating in two HIE services the KHIN and the Missouri-based Lewis and Clark Information Exchange (LACIE) to operate in the state. The board members have been working for several years to put policies in place to oversee the privately owned networks.

At first, patient information on the network will be limited to demographics, medications, allergies, lab results, and medical histories to include diagnoses procedures, surgeries, and immunizations. However, officials at the Kansas HIE, predict that the system will grow to include more kinds of information such as doctor’s notes or dictation recordings. Substance abuse data will not be available on the network unless explicitly authorized by a patient.

The network will work hard to protect patient privacy. In the new Kansas system, access to medical records on the network will be restricted to providers who have a patient’s permission and are providing care to the patient. Insurance companies and the federal Medicare and Medicaid programs will have access to records of patients they cover but only the information directly related to determining coverage and billing.

It will be the job of the KHIE a quasi-public regulatory body with 15 members on the board including representatives of patients, doctors, hospitals, and insurance companies to enforce the standards of the statewide network.

Experts in the state say that the complete conversion from paper to electronic records will take years to be fully realized. For example, at the Veterans Administration regional health information exchange that began around 2002 has only recently connected all of the VA’s 153 medical facilities nationwide, according to Jim Gleisberg with the VA’s Eastern Kansas Health Care System.

Most states have at least some regional exchange of medical information, but only about six states have attempted a full statewide exchange like Kansas, according to KDHE’s Aaron Dunkel, the state’s liaison with the federal health information exchange agency.