Chairman of Ohio Health Info PartnershipApr 12th, 2010 | By ehrstimulus | Category: Legislation, Meaningful Use, Regional Extension Centers
Q&A: Chairman of the Ohio Health Information Partnership
The Ohio Health Information Partnership hopes to make life easier for doctors and health care more coordinated for the state’s patients.
OHIP is a nonprofit that was established last year by the state. It has about $43 million in federal and state funding to help accomplish two key health information technology goals. First, the organization will help set up a health information exchange (HIE), which is essentially a state-wide computer network that will allow hospitals and doctors’ offices to easily share patients’ health information. Second, OHIP will help doctors acquire, implement and learn how to use the electronic health records (EHR) systems that will be the backbone of the exchange.
Leading the effort–for now–is Amy Andres, OHIP’s chairman and the Ohio Department of Insurance’s chief of staff. Andres was likely chosen for the role because of her background in government, health and information technology. She led the pharmacy benefits management business for Chicago-based electronic prescribing company AllScripts, and held positions with CVS ProCare and IT consulting firm Sarcom. She also worked as the CIO for the Ohio Department of Education.
The next milestone for Andres and OHIP’s board is to hire a staff of about 10, including a chief executive who will lead OHIP’s day-to-day operations, a chief information officer and two project managers. Andres spoke with MedCity News about how OHIP plans to accomplish its goal of pushing information technology into Ohio’s hospitals and doctors’ offices.
Q: What is OHIP? How was it created and why does it exist?
A: OHIP is a public-private partnership, with the public portion being my role on the board and the state funding that was put forward as a match for federal funds. The rest of the operation is from the private side. The purpose is to integrate large grants designed to get physicians on electronic health records systems and then get them on a health information exchange to improve the flow of medical information.
Q: How much money does OHIP have to work with and where did it come from?
A: On the health information exchange, we were awarded $14.9 million in federal funds. The state put up $2.1 million. For electronic health records, the feds contributed $28.5 million and we’r
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e putting up $5.9 million in state funds.
There are also likely to be sources of private funds. When there’s an infrastructure that everyone uses like a utility, it makes sense for there to be a small transaction cost to use that entity. We don’t have any pledges for funds today, but OHIP is structured in a way that hospitals have an interest in this being successful because itll bring about a more cost-effective way for them to do business. The same goes for payers and large employers whod stand to benefit from things being done electronically.
Q: Talk a little about the Ohio’s planned Health Information Exchange. What is it, who will use it and when will it be operational?
A: Its a mechanism for people–whether they’re hospitals or doctors’ offices–to exchange specific pieces of data to coordinate patient care. For example, if I show up unconscious at an emergency room from a car accident, the exchange would allow the hospital to look me up, find what meds I’m on, what allergies I have and treat me in a much more safe manner. Essentially, the exchange allows for more efficient transmission of data.
In Ohio, we have about five regional health information organizations that are sharing health information, in addition to several hospital-based efforts. We’re looking for a model where those don’t go away; they can be connected to the statewide HIE. For areas where there is no exchange, they can connect directly to the state HIE.
We’ve sent out a request for information for companies that could support the infrastructure to run the HIE and we’re evaluating over 40 submissions and culling that down to 10. I’m not on the team that’s doing that. After that, we’ll take a deeper dive with a formal request for proposals, with the chosen companies getting the final award by the end of June. Once that happens, work will begin over the summer to start the exchange.
Q: How will OHIP help doctors acquire and implement electronic health records systems? What role do regional extension centers play and what are they?
A: We plan on having a total of eight regional extension centers across the state. They’ll do an assessment of each doctor’s office and the way it generally operates, help them pick an EHR system, help them implement that system, help them work with vendors and train staff. The goal is to put doctors in a position where they can support themselves going forward. Most primary care doctors are in small offices and can’t afford an IT staff.
Then we’ll help them get their systems connected to the exchange. Through OHIP and an HIE in Southern Ohio called HealthBridge, about 7,000 primary care doctors will get on the exchange. Everything’s about getting physicians to use technology in a way that will help them provide better care at a lower cost. Hospitals and universities in each area will be very involved with regional extension centers, so that helps because a lot of doctors already work with them.