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HIOs Form Alliance to Promote Health Information Exchange

Sixteen health information organizations (HIOs), located throughout the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states, recently announced they will work together to address data exchange challenges across regional and state lines. One of the group's primary goals is to advocate for more robust forms of health information exchange (HIE), such as query-based HIE, and ensure that health information appropriately follows patients that require health care services outside of their home town or home state. The group is also advocating for the unique needs of rural areas related to HIT and HIE.

Founding members of the Mid-States Consortium of Health Information Organizations include the following:

  1. Colorado Regional Health Information Organization
  2. Community Health Information Collaborative (Minnesota)
  3. Coordinated Care Oklahoma
  4. Health Information Network Of Arizona
  5. HealthShare, Montana, Inc
  6. Idaho Health Data Exchange
  7. Iowa Health Information Network
  8. Kansas Health Information Network, Inc
  9. Missouri Health Connection
  10. MyHealth Access Network, Inc (Oklahoma)
  11. Nebraska Health Information Initiative
  12. North Dakota Health Information Network
  13. Quality Health Network (Colorado)
  14. South Dakota Health Link at DOH
  15. Southeast Texas Health System
  16. SMRTNET (Oklahoma)

A seventeenth organization, the Community Service Council, based out of Tulsa, Oklahoma, is not an HIO but has joined the Mid-States Consortium of HIOs as a supporting organization.

A key premise in the establishment of the Mid-States Consortium of HIOs is that critical health information must be available to physicians and other health care providers at the point of care, regardless of the location where a patient needs care. Patients are very mobile and receive health care from many different providers, sometimes crossing state lines for services. The Mid-States Consortium members are committed to ensuring important clinical data from these provider visits are available in a highly secure, connected system.

"All members signed a charter indicating their willingness to collaborate on issues that are challenging health information exchange across the nation," says Laura McCrary, EdD, executive director of the Kansas Health Information Network. The Mid-States Consortium members are discussing issues such as data use agreements that enable data exchange across regional and state lines as well as outline permissible secondary data use across HIOs. "These are the most difficult issues for HIOs to resolve as they require a high degree of trust," says McCrary.

Health information organizations in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain states have developed the technology infrastructure to support secure electronic messaging (DIRECT) and query-based exchange to ensure that providers can share health information for patients they have in common. Many of the organizations are pursuing accreditation with organizations such as DirectTrust and Healtheway. However, differing state laws, patient consent policies, and approaches to sharing protected health information have created barriers to successful exchange across regional and state boundaries. The Mid-States Consortium will provide a forum for regional and state HIOs to resolve these issues.

"The Mid-States Consortium of HIOs will provide a venue through which HIOs can negotiate together with vendors and payers for products or services and advocate at the regional and national level for HIO-related issues," says Jeff Messer, director of outreach and development for Colorado Regional Health Information Organization. "The Mid-States Consortium will provide the opportunity for HIOs to share knowledge, education, and networking resources, and collaborate on funding opportunities where partnerships can be advantageous."

Source: Mid-States Consortium of Health Information Organizations