Featured November 5, 2013 | crainsdetroit.com | Jay Greene, Crain’s Detroit Business
East Lansing-based Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services has signed an agreement with McLean, Va.-based Healtheway Inc. to securely share patient care information with federal agencies and six other states on the national eHealth Exchange network.
Michigan’s six health information networks, including the state’s two largest — Grand Rapids-based Michigan Health Connect and East Lansing-based Great Lakes Health Information Exchange — are expected to participate in the national network, said Tim Pletcher, executive director of MiHIN.
The two HIEs represent more than 3,000 physician provider offices and 96 of the state’s approximate 117 hospitals, including the University of Michigan Health System, Trinity Health, Botsford Hospital, McLaren Healthcare, Beaumont Health System and St. John Providence Health System. Detroit-based Southeast Michigan HIE is already a member of Healtheway. Most other hospitals in Southeast Michigan participate in another HIE or through a commercial vendor.
The health information exchanges — not to be confused with the health insurance exchanges under health care reform — are intended to help make it easier for hospitals and physicians to exchange patient information.
Experts believe health care organizations can reduce costs and increase quality by better coordinating care and reducing service duplication when they share patient information.
The other Michigan HIEs, which also represent hospitals and doctors, are Bingham Farms-based Ingenium, Upper Peninsula Health Network and Jackson Community Medical Records.
Federal agencies participating on the nationwide eHealth Exchange network include the Social Security Administration, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Veterans Health Administration.
Besides the Michigan Health Information Network, HIEs based in New York, Virginia, Alabama, Tennessee, Idaho and Indiana are participating in Healtheway. Other members are Epic, the American Medical Association and Kaiser Permanente.
“Participating in the eHealth Exchange enables secure, electronic health information exchange to occur across diverse technical platforms, geographies and legal requirements,” said Mariann Yeager, executive director of Healtheway, in a statement.
“Enabling Michigan’s health care providers to exchange information electronically with federal organizations and other participants in the eHealth Exchange community will help improve patient care, through information availability, and expedite payment of benefits for the disabled,” Yeager said.
Pletcher said MiHIN’s data processing system is the first state-designated entity for exchanging health information to complete secure connections to the national eHealth Exchange under guidelines of the Certification Commission for Health Information Technology.
Michigan’s providers will also be able to share medical and behavioral health information on the eHealth Exchange, he said.
“There’s an impression that the focus of HIE has centered on physical health, but this pioneering support of a behavioral health data sharing organization reflects Michigan’s commitment to integrated coordination of care between behavioral and physical health providers,” Pletcher said.
MiHIN worked with Farmington Hills-based PCE Systems to test the behavioral health information, he said.
Sharing behavioral health and medical health information “provides an important tool to share information across a person’s care continuum,” Pletcher said.
Healtheway’s eHealth Exchange, formerly called the National Health Information Network Exchange, represents hundreds of hospitals, thousands of doctors and other providers, and millions of patients, Yeager said.