Mass HIway begins Phase 2 exchange

January 9, 2014 in Medical Technology

The Mass HIway Health Information Exchange has entered into the next phase.

Massachusetts Gov. Deval L. Patrick joined healthcare leaders at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston Jan. 8 to demonstrate the new tools that will allow providers for the first time to locate, request and retrieve medical records from other participating healthcare providers across the Commonwealth.

This is accomplished on a secure, interconnected system with a click of a button, Patrick said in announcing the progress.

The event included a hands-on demonstration of the new technology in a simulated medical setting, where Patrick witnessed doctors working to help a patient by retrieving the patient’s health information from other healthcare organizations in real-time.

“This technology is a win for all of us – it will help us reduce health costs, improve patient care and save lives,” Patrick said in a news release. “Accurate health information is the fuel of our healthcare system, and these innovations will allow providers to treat patients with greater accuracy and speed.”

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to receive federal funding through the Center for Medicare Medicaid Services to develop the Health Information Exchange.

[See also: Massachusetts lands $17M to launch statewide HIE.]

“The new MassHIway technology enables providers to more quickly diagnose patient conditions,” added Massachusetts Secretary of Health and Human Services John Polanowicz, in a statement. “It will allow providers to better prevent medical errors such as drug-to-drug or allergic reactions; and will help discontinue fax and paper-based records that take precious time and cost millions of dollars.”

The Mass HIway went live for use by the Massachusetts healthcare community on Oct. 16, 2012. At the launch, Patrick’s physician sent the governor’s medical record across the state securely over the Mass HIway in real time. In its first year, 55 institutions have connected and are using the Mass HIway to support care coordination, case management, quality reporting and public health.

At the Jan. 8 event, emergency department clinicians at BIDMC simulated an encounter where a patient was unresponsive. Using the Mass HIway, doctors discovered the patient had medical records at Atrius Health, Holyoke Medical Center and Tufts Medical Center. Doctors used the Mass HIway to request and retrieve the records. With a comprehensive medical history on the patient, the care team avoided drug-to-drug and allergic reactions, duplicative testing and delayed diagnosis, and was able to treat the patient with greater speed and safety.
Exchange to help boost quality
“Making this exchange available to providers across the care continuum will support our quality improvement goals that align with the Affordable Care Act and Massachusetts’ health reform,” said BIDMC CIO and Health Information Technology Council member John Halamka, MD, in a statement.

“I can imagine a day in the next few years, when all patients in the Commonwealth, with their consent, benefit from secure, coordinated care,” Halamka wrote in his blog, Jan. 8.

The Mass HIway helps healthcare providers measure and report clinical quality measures, which can be used by MassHealth and private insurers as part of implementing new bundled payment approaches to compensating healthcare providers, according to exchange officials. The Mass HIway has also been extended to enable clinicians to electronically submit required information to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health directly from their electronic health record systems. Required submissions include immunization information, cancer case information, and other information required to further the goals of monitoring and improving public health.

CIOs and physicians explained how Phase 2 improvements would affect their organizations.

“The Mass HIway will provide Holyoke a mechanism to extend its capability to share clinical information with primary providers and payers to manage chronic disease patients across the continuum to reduce hospital readmissions and improve population health,” said Holyoke Medical Center Vice President of Operations and CIO Carl Cameron.

“This new functionality will greatly enhance the ability of clinicians to have access to a patient’s health information at the point of care, which can only improve care and reduce cost,” said Director of Clinical Informatics at Atrius Health Michael Lee, MD.

[See also: Massachusetts HIE to connect 80.]

“Tufts Medical Center is proud to continue our participation in the evolution of the Mass HIway,” said Tufts Medical Center Chief Medical Officer Saul Weingart, MD. “Comprehensive patient information is critical to patient safety. It is a worthy goal to provide this information no matter where the patient is on the HIway at any given time.”
“I’ve long said that Massachusetts leads the way in healthcare delivery nationally and this is especially true in the area of health care IT,” said BIDMC President and CEO Kevin Tabb, MD. “The ability to access records from care providers throughout the state is a critical step forward in providing the very best care we can for our patients in the most efficient way possible.”

“As more providers and hospitals adopt The Mass HIway, it will become a critical tool in healthcare delivery and operations,” said HHS CIO Manu Tandon. “Our goal is to assist the Commonwealth’s care community to efficiently use the technology to realize its full potential.”

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