The California Health eQuality (CHeQ) program, which is managed by the UC Davis Institute for Population Health Improvement (IPHI), this month launched a new Rural Health Information Exchange Incentive initiative of $1 million to assist doctors, hospitals and clinics in rural California to start using technologies that allow for secure and reliable exchanges of health information to boost the quality of healthcare, drop costs and to achieve federal meaningful use data.
IPHI’s director and UC Davis distinguished professor Kenneth W. Kizer recently spoke about the new initiative at the 2013 California HIE Summit. He said that using electronic health records (EHRs) effectively, as well as the health information exchange (HIE) are very important features of current attempts to overhaul the health care system in the US. As a part of some of these efforts, both hospitals and doctors must use electronic information management programs that meet what are called meaningful use standards. These include several core clinical measures, such as having the ability to check for harmful drug interactions.
Kizer told the summit that the new incentive program is trying to address some of the many challenges that we see as rural doctors and medical professionals try to set up an HIE system. There is a lack of providers in many rural areas, so many patients have to drive long distances to get care. This makes it more likely that the doctors do not have all of the patients’ health care data. So, patients may sometimes have repeat lab tests or imaging tests, get prescriptions for drugs that are not compatible, and have other related problems due to fragmented care.
This new Rural HIE Incentive Program features a new, more cost effective model that allows for better information exchanges in rural areas. The program also has five different HIE service providers who are prescreened and fully qualified for their ability to offer vital health information exchange services. This allows rural providers to more easily obtain the services that meet their needs at a lower, subsidized rate.
Kizer noted that CHeQ has provided one million dollars for this incentive program through the end of 2013. Continuation of this program after that point depends on if funds are available, and what the results are of this effort.
This new incentive program was promoted during the HIE Summit that occurred from May 8-9 in Sacramento.
The manager of the CHeQ HIE funding programs, Rayna Caplan, noted that many rural areas have started to understand the great need for strong health information exchanges, and they are establishing HIE initiatives. However, other communities in rural areas are still in need and few have the money to implement them.
The CHeQ Rural HIE Incentive Program helps to deal with some of these challenges by giving a strong support structure for rural HIE implementation. This includes providing a list of designated health information exchange providers. Also, 65% of the cost of implementation is subsidized.
These service providers offer many high priority services, such as query based exchanges with longitudinal patient record services and also repository services.
Service providers of HIE can offer established vendors of technology who offer software service solutions, system integrators, and also consultants that integrate many vendor applications.