Electronic Health Records

Michigan HIE connects Blue Cross Blue Shield to network

The Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN) has added a major payer to its list of connected healthcare organizations and providers. According to a public statement, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) has joined the health information exchange (HIE), the first health plan to do so.

“BCBSM’s leadership as the first health plan to become a qualified data sharing organization (QO) demonstrates their commitment to improving the quality of care for their members,” said MiHIN Executive Director Tim Pletcher in the announcement. “BCBSM is helping pioneer the next phase of health information exchange in Michigan.  With the inclusion of health plans in Michigan’s statewide network, the opportunities for better care coordination rapidly accelerate.”

As QO and member of MiHIN, BCBSM will participate in the exchange of health information alongside other major healthcare organizations (e.g., State of Michigan’s Department of Community Health [MDCH], South East Michigan Beacon Community) and all the sub-state HIEs already qualified for data sharing:

• Great Lakes Health Information Exchange (GLHIE), based in East Lansing;

• Ingenium, based in Bingham Farms;

• Jackson Community Medical Records (JCMR), based in Jackson;

• Michigan Health Connect (MHC), based in Grand Rapids;

• Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange (SEMHIE), based in Ann Arbor;

• Upper Peninsula Health Information Exchange (UPHIE), based in Marquette

In March 2010, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology established the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program that awarded 56 states and other entities $548 million to develop the infrastructure necessary for efficient and scalable exchange of health information.  As of 2011, the MDCH had received close to $15 million dollars and helped establish MiHIN Shared Services as well as cover its operational costs.

In an interview with EHRintelligence.com last May, Pletcher emphasized the need to identify and get all the right stakeholders together, including payers, to move HIE forward in the state. “They all have representation on our Board as well as the insurance companies, the State of Michigan, and the Health Information Technology Commission.”

As a recent Institute for Health Technology Transformation (iHT2) report noted, claims data has provided the lion’s share of information for clinical analytics up until this point, but they need to be integrated with clinical documentation from EHR and health IT systems in order to provide a complete picture of the health of an individual patient or an entire patient population. The value of payer data is embodied in the role of health insurance and management organizations play in care delivery reforms such as accountable care organizations (ACOs) and patient-centered medical homes (PCMHs).

The inclusion of BCBSM in MiHIN should go a long way toward combining clinician and payer data in a centralized way to improve the care coordination and management of care costs in the State of Michigan. Now what’s left to wonder is when HIEs and payers in other regions and states will follow suit.

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