Ohio’s plan for connecting physicians, hospitals and other health settings through a statewide health information exchange (HIE) got a thumbs up January 25 from federal officials at the Office of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology (ONC).
According to the Ohio Health Information Partnership (OHIP), Ohio initially received $1 million from the ONC in 2010 to begin the HIE planning process. A committee of physicians, hospital leaders, health plan officials and state agency representatives have been working on a comprehensive plan for more than a year; ONC approval results in the release of an additional $13.8 million to start the implementation process.
"We’re excited to make the vision of a statewide health information system accessible to those who need it,” said Dan Paoletti, interim CEO of OHIP and vice-president of data services at the Ohio Hospital Association. “We’re paving the way for Ohio’s entire healthcare system to be more efficient, cost effective and patient-centered.”
Ohio continues to build a solid base of physicians and institutional providers who will eventually use the HIE. Since last October, 3,058 physicians and other primary care providers have signed contracts to receive services for the adoption and implementation of electronic health records. OHIP and its seven regional partners have now met 50 percent of the targeted goal of reaching 6,000 priority primary care physicians.
OHIP’s Chief Information and Operating Officer Fred Richards said he hopes to fill the remaining 2,942 slots allotted by the federal ONC by summer 2011. A vendor will soon be procured to create the HIE infrastructure to facilitate the exchange of these electronic health records, Richards said.
Statewide video conferences will be held in regional areas throughout Ohio, March 8 to explain Ohio's initiative. Final locations and registrations will begin February 7 so physicians and staff can go to local hospitals and entities to view the videoconference and ask questions. The videoconferences will feature state and federal officials, OHIP leaders and a presentation from a neighboring state about a successful HIE.
OHIP is a nonprofit, state-designated entity responsible for establishing regional extension centers to assist physicians and hospitals with information technology and for creating the infrastructure for a health information exchange in the state. The partnership includes the Ohio State Medical Association, Ohio Osteopathic Association, Ohio Hospital Association, BioOhio and the State of Ohio. OHIP is funded through the Office of the National Coordinator, U.S. Dept. of Health & Human Services, grant numbers 90RC0012 and 90HT0024.