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Nevada HIE Wins $1.2M to Expand Health Data Exchange Capabilities

HealthHIE Nevada will receive $1.2 million in funding to expand its ability to facilitate health data exchange among providers.

HealtHIE Nevada recieved $1.2 million to expand its health data exchange capabilities for area providers.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The Nevada Board of Examiners recently approved $1.2 million in funding to support the state’s health information exchange (HIE) — HealtHIE Nevada — in its efforts to improve health data exchange for area providers.

Specifically, the funding will allow HealthHIE Nevada to expand its secure central data repository. By building up its central data repository, the HIE will be equipped to support higher volumes of patient health information and facilitate data sharing for an increased number of Nevada providers.

At a September 11 hearing, one advocate for the HIE — Valeria Hoffman — told the Board of Examiners the funding will “go a long way to help provide the mechanism so patients don’t have to go to separate providers, gather paper records, and carry them around with them,” according to NevadaAppeal.com.

Hoffman had struggled to efficiently collect and share her oldest son’s patient health information across multiple providers when he needed a liver transplant several years ago. When he had an opportunity to receive a transplant, Hoffman had one day to visit multiple providers, access his medical records and X-rays, and deliver the records to providers at Stanford Health Care in Henderson, Nevada.

Improving the state’s HIE would allow other patients and their families to more easily and quickly send health records to providers to avoid similar incidents in the future.

Two-thirds of the HIE’s funding will be provided by the federal government, while the State of Nevada will cover the remaining one-third.

Last month, HealtHIE Nevada confirmed its commitment to upholding industry standards related to health data exchange by earning accreditation from the EHNAC Health Information Exchange Accreditation Program (HIEAP).

The accreditation signals HealtHIE Nevada’s success in health data processing and transactions and indicates the HIE’s compliance with HIPAA regulations.

HealtHIE comprises more than 70 network participants including Dignity Health, Valley Health System, University Medical Center of Southern Nevada, and others.

VITL explores contingency options after ongoing difficulties

Elsewhere in HIE news, Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL) is in the process of reviewing a new contingency plan for the state’s HIE if efforts to fix the exchange fall short of meeting reform requirements.

The Department of Vermont Health Access and VITL have been working to implement short and long-term solutions to make the state HIE more sustainable since 2017.

The report offers six options state officials or VITL members can pursue if the HIE fails to meet goals, including one option that suggests VITL shut down the HIE completely. However, report authors emphasized that maintaining the HIE is in the best interest of Vermont’s patients and providers.

“The (exchange) is of essential importance to the state, its residents and healthcare providers,” wrote authors in the report, according to VTDigger. “Thus, on a qualitative value basis, the (exchange) is a valuable asset to the state and its constituents, and its services should be continued.”

Potential options officials may pursue if efforts to improve the HIE fail include merging VITL with a private organization outside of Vermont, which would take about six to 12 months to implement and cost between $300,000 to $600,000.

VITL may also seek a new operator for the HIE, or hire a consulting firm to improve HIE management. The consulting firm could either introduce new management to VITL or assist current management with a turnaround plan.

Another potential contingency option involves merging VITL with a Vermont-based entity that would assume HIE operations. The state could assist with facilitating the merger.

The fifth option calls for a full state takeover of the HIE, while the final option involves shutting down the exchange completely.

The final contingency option could potentially result in a $267,000 net gain for VITL or a $1.38 million loss, according to report estimates.

While VITL has struggled to achieve sustained stability and success in facilitating health data exchange for patients and providers, the HIE has seen some improvements since it received a poor review in 2017.

In February 2018, VITL officials reported 30 percent of Vermont residents had patient EHRs in the HIE — up from 19 percent before the review. 

Officials will continue pushing for improvements to restore stability and credibility to the exchange.

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