Pennsylvania has shaken its grant moneytree and allocated $6 million in grants to four healthcare groups to accelerate provider connections to regional healthcare information exchanges.
In addition to connecting providers, Philadelphia-based HealthShare of Southeastern PA, Highmark HIE in Pittsburgh; Lehigh Valley Hospital in
Allentown and St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem will use the money to connect to a technical platform so that the participating HIEs can communicate with each other, according to a statement from the state’s eHealth Collaborative. The platforms will include access to a centrally shared provider directory, patient index and record-locator services. The move is intended to avoid duplicating costs among users.
The $6 million is about one third of the $17 million the state received from the federal government to set up an HIE.
As of November last year Pennsylvania had 10 groups that identified themselves as providing HIE services.
But even as states move to set up HIEs to facilitate the exchange of patient data between providers and labs and other healthcare organizations, some providers are still trying to get electronic health records systems set up that they will need in order to be in a position to share the information in the first place. Although many providers have already done that, smaller groups have been struggling.
Earlier this month Robert Torres, the state’s Health Information Technology Coordinator, said it would extend the deadline for a grant program to encourage more providers to add a low-fi way to connect with a health information exchange in the state from mid-August to October.
It’s part of a national program designed to provide a halfway point for providers that can’t afford the infrastructure to connect with a healthcare information exchange. The Direct Messaging program is designed to speed up the exchange of information securely for practices still relying on the postal service to transmit data to their networks of nursing homes, physician practices and labs.