Does Georgia have lessons to learn from its neighbor’s failed attempt to start up a statewide HIE?
By NEW HealthFlock BLOGGER: Jennifer Dennard, Social Marketing Director – Billian
The hot topic of Health Information Exchange showed no signs of cooling down last week, as Tennessee announced it was shuttering its statewide HIE project, otherwise known as the Health Information Partnership for Tennessee (HIP TN). Despite receiving $11 million in government funds, and conducting numerous data exchange tests and demonstrations since it was formed in 2009, HIP TN “did not reach the point where it helped exchange clinical data in a production environment,” according to an iHealthBeat announcement, which also pointed out the state is now focusing its attention (and presumably whatever is left of its money) on helping providers attest for Meaningful Use incentives.
News from Tennessee always catches my eye because of its implications for Georgia. The healthcare IT and finance communities in both areas often seem to flow over state lines, bringing business development opportunity and friendly debate over whose healthcare “scene” takes up more of the national spotlight.
So what does Tennessee’s statewide HIE shut down mean for Georgia? What lessons can be learned, and does the GA. Dept. of Community Health – a sponsoring organization – have the time to learn them in light of 2014 racing towards us, bringing with it thousands of new patients thanks to the Affordable Care Act?
I chatted with Jeffery Daigrepont, Senior Vice President at The Coker Group, a national healthcare consulting firm based here in Atlanta, to gain some perspective on what Tennessee’s experience can offer Georgia’s HIE:
“Clearly, having a sustainable economic model is critical and should be in place before going to market,” he says. “Trying to get a HIE off the ground without a sustainable model is like trying to lay railroad tracks without first clearing the forest. Without physician involvement, incentives or a return on investment, we will likely see more examples like Tennessee.
“Many in the industry (and HIE providers) hope MU incentives will push providers to connect to a HIE. The HIE requirement isn’t necessary until phase two, and most physicians are conceptually in agreement to be aligned with sharing data with other providers. However, many worry that the right incentives are still not in place. The provider does not get paid extra to fish results out of the HIE, but they will get paid to redo the test.
“Providers also do not feel protected making clinical decisions using data populated by other users, and they all complain about not having the data at the point of care or fully integrated into their EHR in a way that will reconcile the data. While the HIE may store all of this data, it’s not that meaningful to the prescribing provider unless a ‘complete’ medication list is also stored in the EHR.
“While the HIE is a step in the right direction, there are still many barriers to make it physician friendly and to have value for the stakeholder. In my opinion, HIEs will not succeed until there are some serious financial upsides or downsides for the caregivers to interact with them. For this to happen, the HIE will need to be fully integrated with the hospitals, pharmacies, patients, payers, EHR vendors and have a sustainable financial model. There are several sustainable models in play, so they do exist.”
Taking cues from the sustainable models already in play will be key to the success of health information exchange in any state. Perhaps Georgia can look to Hawaii, and just-announced news of the expansion of its successful Hawai’i Island Beacon Community HIE. Only time will tell, however, if the success stories of one area (or island) can be applied unilaterally across the state lines of another.