Maine to connect veterans to HIE
October 16, 2013 in Medical Technology
The State of Maine, in partnership with HealthInfoNet, Maine’s statewide health information exchange, has been awarded a three-year grant with an anticipated total of $900,000 to improve care coordination for Maine’s veterans.
The funding, from the Health Research and Services Administration, will be used to connect the VA Maine Healthcare System, composed of the medical center located in Augusta and 11 outpatient clinics, to the health information exchange. The state will receive $300,000 for the first year and expects a similar award amount for each of the two years to follow.
Recent projections from the VA Office of Rural Health show 12.8 percent of Maine residents are veterans, the fifth highest per capita population in the country.
Because Maine is a large, rural state, access to VA facilities can be challenging and veterans must also seek care from their community’s private hospitals, mental health providers, community health centers and physician practices. This makes it difficult for both the VA and private providers to coordinate veterans’ care, something critical to improving quality and reducing costs, HealthInfoNet officials explained in announcing the funding.
Many of Maine’s private providers are connected to Maine’s HIE to help them more easily share a patient’s medical information when necessary. But for veterans, the care they receive in Maine’s VA facilities is not accessible through the HIE, and VA providers are unable to access information from private providers using the system. This means providers are often unaware of services their patients receive outside the VA or private health care systems.
[See also: All Maine hospitals commit to HIE.]
The funding will bridge a critical gap in care coordination by facilitating both a veteran’s VA and private providers to share critical health information when it’s needed to care for them, regardless of where that veteran is treated. Once connection is in place, VA providers will have access to the statewide HIE and veterans will be able to choose to share their VA records with private providers also using the HIE.
“We understand the critical nature of being able to share medical information in a timely manner,’” said Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew, in a news release. “This grant will help to build a link between systems that will greatly improve data sharing related to the care of Maine’s large and growing veteran population. A system that allows for real-time access of information and that produces a comprehensive medical record will improve the quality of care while reducing errors and the duplication of services. This project is aligned with many efforts under way in Maine to improve the exchange of vital health information, which is essential in our rural State.”
Article source: http://www.healthcareitnews.com/news/maine-connect-veterans-hie