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APRIL 8, 2010

Hospitals to participate in $5.9 million grant

    The Idaho Health Data Exchange (IHDE) recently received a $5.9 million grant through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to develop and implement a statewide health information exchange. The monies will be used to set up systems so electronic patient data can be securely shared between health care providers throughout the state including physicians in private practice, medical clinics and hospitals. Information through the IHDE is protected under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.

    The IHDE is a work product of Idaho’s Health Quality Planning Commission created by the Idaho Legislature. Members of the Commission are appointed by the Governor and represent a cross section of Idaho’s health care stakeholders. Casey Meza, CEO, CVHC/SMHC, was appointed to the Commission in 2006 by Governor James Risch.

    “Hospitals, clinics and health care providers around the state use a variety of electronic medical record systems to create patient files. The Commission’s original task was to identify a health data exchange system that would allow the various software systems to communicate with one another so regardless of where a patient is originally seen their EMR could be shared with subsequent authorized providers,” said Meza. “It was gratifying to work with other Commission members. As we worked through the process it was important to clarify the difference between a rural and an urban setting. Many small towns have limited broadband access. Through the efforts of St. Mary’s and Clearwater Valley Hospitals and other regional entities our service area now has expanded broadband access that can accommodate the necessary broadband width to send large files such as X-rays and other medical images.”

    The IHDE currently connects three hospitals: St. Luke’s and St. Alphonsus in Boise and Kootenai Medical Center in Coeur d’Alene, three laboratories and a number of physician practices. Clearwater Valley and St. Mary’s Hospitals and Clinics are scheduled for addition to that list during year one of the grant subject to final approval by the IHDE Board of Directors at their April 8 meeting after the Health Quality Planning Commission meeting.

    “Adding our two hospitals and seven medical clinics will expand the system to the rural areas within our state and lay the groundwork for future exchange of patient data using HIPAA compliant procedures,” said Meza. “SMHC/CVHC’s early efforts at initiating EMRs for better patient care will be more fully realized through this data exchange.”

    According to a press release issued by the IHDE, electronic exchange of information helps ensure that vital patient information is available at the point of care and replaces faxing and mailing of health information. A health information exchange has the potential to help control health care costs by reducing duplication of services.

    “The Health Data Exchange is a great example of what a partnership between the public and private sectors can do for Idaho citizens,” Governor Butch Otter said. “We have brought together healthcare providers, consumers, insurance companies and hospitals to guide and implement this investment in health information technology. In these difficult economic times, it is unique partnerships like this that can turn ideas into reality.”

Pictured: Casey Meza, CEO, CVHC/SMHC, serves on the Idaho Health Quality Planning Commission which helped create the Idaho Health Data Exchange. The IHDE recently received $5.9 million to facilitate the confidential exchange of patient electronic health data between facilities and providers across the state. CVHC/SMHC are scheduled for inclusion in that network.