Featured March 28, 2013 | ModernHealthcare.com | Joseph Conn

Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services, the state’s administrator of federal health information exchange grant funding under the stimulus law, has announced that Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan has become the first health plan in the state to join as a qualified data-sharing organization.

“Ensuring that providers have the information they need at the point of care and proactively preventing problems before they happen is essential for good care coordination,” said Robert Milewski, a MiHIN director and senior vice president at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan, in a news release. “Officially joining the MiHIN data sharing community is a big step in Michigan becoming a connected-for-health state.”

The Michigan not-for-profit organization known as MiHIN was founded in December 2010 as a collaboration between the state government and other public and private organizations. It provides an information technology backbone for six regional health information exchange organizations in Michigan to connect them with state health agencies and, eventually, with the proposed Nationwide Health Information Network.

Since 2012, the state network has helped member HIEs to electronically submit patient immunization records to the Michigan Department of Community Health’s Michigan Care Improvement Registry, and lab summaries to the Michigan Disease Surveillance System.

In 2010, the Michigan Department of Health was awarded a $15 million federal grant under the State HIE Cooperative Agreement Program, a stimulus law initiative administered by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology at HHS. The ONC recently lauded Michigan health information exchange participants on its HealthITBuzz blog, noting in a state report in November, more than 60 hospitals and 2,000 physicians and other “eligible professionals” have used regional Michigan HIEs to achieve exchange requirements and attest to Stage 1 meaningful use under the federal EHR incentive payment program.