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Two Parallel Health Information Exchanges Under Development in CT

The Connecticut Health IT Advisory Council was surprised to learn the state’s DSS is also building a health information exchange.

Two parallel efforts to develop HIE services are underway in Connecticut.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- There are currently two state-run efforts to build health information exchanges (HIEs) underway in Connecticut, according to CT Mirror.

The state’s Health IT Advisory Council has been working to launch a statewide HIE since 2007. This most recent effort to establish an HIE is the state’s fourth attempt.

At a recent meeting, council members learned the state’s Department of Social Services (DSS) is also in the process of developing HIE services. A DSS official gave a presentation on the agency’s progress toward building HIE tools to the surprise of many members.

The Health IT Advisory Council was largely frustrated to learn there are two parallel efforts to build statewide HIEs in Connecticut because legislature mandated that the council supply the state’s only HIE.

“I didn’t really know any of this was going on. Was this known to this council that there was a completely parallel state-run process going on?” said Health IT Advisory Council member Alan Kaye, MD, according to CT Mirror. “What have we been doing here for nearly two years?”

DSS led two of Connecticut’s early attempts to build an HIE. The agency has been developing ways to support health data exchange since terminating an HIE project in 2016, when the Health Information Technology Officer (HITO) was established to take over HIE infrastructure for the state.

DSS has made progress on health data exchange efforts including Project Notify, a provider registry, an enterprise master patient index, and an electronic clinical measure system.

“I think everybody agreed that this should be an inclusive process, with all the stakeholders sitting around the table describing what it is that we want to build,” said Griffin Hospital President and CEO and council member Patrick Charmel.  

While many members of the council were surprised to learn DSS has forged ahead with its efforts after terminating its 2016 project, Connecticut HITO Allan Hackney was aware of the agency’s work.

“It did become evident that there were some potential opportunities or redundancies depending on the use case and we agree that as we go forward we will evaluate them,” Hackney said. “We don’t want to duplicate if we can use theirs.”

According to Hackney, the HITO office has planned since 2017 to evaluate the health data exchange tools DSS is building and potentially incorporate the tools into the Health IT Advisory Council’s HIE.

“We are not going to fund the same things twice,” said DSS representative and council member Joe Stanford.

Ultimately, council members decided to continue developing their own electronic clinical quality measure system since the system built by the DSS will likely not function on a statewide scale.

This recent discovery comes on the heels of a $12.2 million grant awarded by CMS in September to support the advisory council’s HIE project.

CMS awarded the grant to the Connecticut Office of Health Strategy (OHS) to assist the state’s effort to streamline health data exchange across care facilities, hospitals, and health system for better-informed clinical decision-making.

The grant follows a $5 million federal investment the state received in 2017 to fund HIE planning.

If successful, the new HIE will give providers a way to measure clinical data for more efficient population health management.

The HIE is expected to be fully operational by early 2019.

While Connecticut lacks a statewide HIE, the state does have a small functioning HIE connecting several physician practices.

In 2017, the Connecticut State Medical Society partnered with KaMMCO Health Solutions to launch the physician-led CTHealthLink.

The network includes Starling Physicians, Southern New England Ear, Nose, and Throat, Facial Plastic Surgery Group, and Soundview Medical Associates.

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