The Michigan Health Connect, a health information exchange that spans 49 hospitals, is a rare bird in the industry. It is entirely funded by its hospital members, who pay a base rate depending on their size, then pay additional fees depending on what services are needed.

Executive Director Doug Dietzman described the exchange at the Medical Group Management Association annual meeting in Las Vegas. He emphasized that to succeed, HIEs should focus on solving small local problems first, rather than pursue a grandiose vision. In his case, local hospitals were being inundated with requests by physicians to write interfaces to their electronic health records systems. By turning to the HIE as a neutral third-party, the hospitals were able to avoid those costs.

The biggest hurdle was overcoming the competitive instincts of hospitals, many of which had an ingrained reluctance to share data. "The HIE does not offer a competitive advantage," Dietzman said. "It's the cost of doing business."

Today, Michigan Health Connect pushes out some 830,000 results a month and processes 16,500 lab orders monthly. Physicians don't pay to participate. HIEs need a "neutral, non-threatening third-party" running the show, Dietzman said. "Positive, competitive peer pressure" will grow the membership as hospitals see their peers using an exchange, he said.

The HIE has also built out an electronic network to handle referrals, a particularly thorny transaction for most hospitals and medical groups to orchestrate, Dietzman said. The exchange runs on software from the Medicity software unit of Aetna Inc., and connects with nearly two dozen ambulatory EHR systems.  Part of the HIE's success is its capacity to provide guaranteed delivery of results and proof of receipt to the sending party, he added.


Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Health Data Management content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access