Mass. State Senator Richard Moore told several hundred participants in the HIMSS HIE Symposium that states will need to untangle what is becoming an increasingly crowded arena. Although Moore praised the health information exchange model as being critical to improved health care quality, a number of issues—including patient privacy--stand in the way of ultimate success.

“Exchanges are being created almost every day,” he said. According to Moore, some 167 health information exchanges are currently functioning in the United States. And they all face some common issues. Chief among them, says Moore, are workforce shortages in personnel qualified to do the technological work needed for health organizations to swap data.

Moore described how Massachusetts’ own health reform legislation, which was passed in 2006 and served as a model for the Obama administration’s national reform law, placed great emphasis on health I.T. as a quality facilitator. The state mandated that individuals obtain health insurance, and has built a Web site that enables consumers to shop for and compare plans.

The state has formed its own HIE as well, and is planning to invest some $80 million in broadband infrastructure to help prop it up. The state is also eyeing considerable federal incentives—with a potential $1.2 billion in meaningful use incentive money at stake, Moore noted. “The EHR is fast becoming the standard of care,” he said.

Despite the influx of federal funds, Moore says that Massachusetts—and other states—must still wrestle with the complex issue of developing a sustainable business model for any HIE.


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