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State Wins $17M To Build New Health Care Portal A La Online Banking

Dr. JudyAnn Bigby, Mass. Secretary of Health and Human Services

WBUR’s Martha Bebinger reports that Massachusetts has secured $17 million to begin building the country’s first health care portal that will work much like online banking.

The new Health Information Exchange is a program through which doctors, hospitals and labs can log in from any location to share notes, converse and post patient records. Health and Human Services Secretary JudyAnn Bigby says connecting a patients providers will save money and improve care.

“Providers could have access to the same information at the same time so that there’s no delay in developing a coordinated plan for someone who has a major illness,” Bigby sayd.

The network will encrypt information to ensure safety and require patient consent. Patients will be able to log on in later phases of the project.

Here’s the full news release, from the Patrick Administration, with more details:

The Patrick-Murray Administration today announced that Massachusetts is moving forward with its statewide Health Information Exchange, which will create a health care information highway, paving the way forward for integrated care and cost containment efforts. The Obama Administration approved $16.9 million for the project, which will allow providers, hospitals and others involved in patient care to exchange clinical data via a secure statewide network.

“When fully implemented, this technology will support our goals of providing high quality care while slowing the growth of costs,” said Governor Deval Patrick. “The health care industry is a vital part of the Massachusetts economy, and I thank the Obama Administration for the continued support.”

The federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) approved Massachusetts’ request for $16.9 million in funding, which is a combination of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant funding and Medicaid funds. Following a competitive bid process, the Patrick-Murray Administration entered into a contract with Orion Health to advance Phase 1 of this three phase program.

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to receive federal funding participation approval through CMS to create a Health Information Exchange. This new funding will complement additional efforts underway to support Health Information Technology advances in the Commonwealth.

“This exchange will serve as a statewide health care information highway, that will connect every payer, provider, and patient to a single technology backbone,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services Dr. JudyAnn Bigby. “This will create the infrastructure providers and hospitals need to move towards a more integrated, global model of care.”

The funding announced today will support Phase 1 of the Health Information Exchange and will allow the Commonwealth to put in place a strong project management team, governance structure and operations staff to develop the HIE’s technical infrastructure. Phase 1 of the project is targeted to go live later this year.

“Massachusetts has always paved the way when it comes to health care and this is another example,” said U.S. Senator John Kerry. “Investing in health information technology is a smart way to create jobs, improve care, and reduce costs. This investment will create the infrastructure that doctors, insurers and patients across the state need to share information electronically in a secure environment.”

“This Recovery Act funding will help move Massachusetts¹ health care system from the age of the black bag to the age of the BlackBerry,” said Congressman Edward J. Markey. “By creating a secure flow of information between health care providers, we can ensure that the care patients receive is appropriate and well-coordinated. When individuals such as those with Alzheimer’s or other dementias show up at an emergency room, it is vital for the doctor on-call to have that patient’s medical history on-hand to ensure the patient receives the appropriate care.”

“The use of this technology will improve patient safety and increase quality of care while reducing administrative costs. This investment, coupled with the benefits of the federal Affordable Care Act, will go a long way in controlling health care costs,” said Congressman John Olver. “I am pleased that these ARRA funds have been put to such good use.”
“The use of this technology will improve patient safety and increase quality of care while reducing administrative costs. This investment, coupled with the benefits of the federal Affordable Care Act, will go a long way in controlling health care costs,” said Congressman John Olver. “I am pleased that these ARRA funds have been put to such good use.”

“Better coordinated care between patients, doctors, and hospitals is key to our efforts to reduce health care costs and improve patient care,” said Congresswoman Niki Tsongas. “With this health information exchange, Massachusetts is again leading the way when it comes to improving our health care system.”

“We need to bring our health care services into the 21st century, and this announcement marks a concrete step towards that goal,” said Congressman Bill Keating. “With the Health Information Exchange, we are trading inefficient paper records for at-your-fingertips information available across the board to a patient’s health care providers. This will cut down on duplicative diagnostic tests, unnecessary and sometimes life-threatening delays, and costs for the patient and our system.”

“Orion Health has provided comprehensive yet easy-to-use integration solutions to innovative health information exchanges across the country and around the globe,” said Paul Viskovich, president, Orion Health North America. “Our technology will now support the statewide HIE in Massachusetts, providing us with a unique opportunity to work with the most healthcare-centric state in the nation.”

“Connecting payers, providers, and patients will improve quality, safety, and efficiency of health care throughout the Commonwealth,” said Dr. John Halamka, Chairman of the New England Healthcare Exchange Network and Co-Chair of the HIT Standards Committee.

“Building the health information exchange brings Massachusetts one step closer to fully connected and secure patient health records,” said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “Our e-Health Institute’s efforts to connect providers to this exchange will help ensure patients and providers can access and use health records in a meaningful way.”

The health information technology initiative is part of the Patrick-Murray Administration’s comprehensive efforts to promote quality health care through the use of technology.

These measures, together with market innovations in integrated care, new cost-sharing models enabled by the federal Affordable Care Act and renegotiated contracts between some insurers and providers, have helped Massachusetts make significant progress in controlling health care costs. Governor Patrick is working with the Legislature to bring a final cost-containment bill to his desk that will give the industry more tools to continue moving toward the kind of integrated care that improves health care quality and lowers total cost by rewarding the quality of care, not the quantity.