As I mentioned in my initial report covering the MetroChicago HIE, some three-fourths of Chicago-area hospitals have signed on with one of the nation’s most ambitious data exchange projects. To learn more about what has propelled the HIE, I caught up recently with Terri Jacobsen, the project’s director. She’s part of the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, a long-standing Chicago-based membership organization that is spearheading the data exchange. Some 69 area hospitals have joined, signing letters of intent to participate as dues-paying members. Unlike some data exchanges, which had to build from scratch not-for-profit organizations and boards to operate, the council has enjoyed relationships with Chicago-area providers for years. “Our pre-existing relationships have helped facilitate the effort so far,” Jacobsen says. (click here for a video interview MCHC conducted with Terri).

Nonetheless, the council has taken a step-wise approach in launching the exchange. At each critical juncture, the council has reached out to its members to reaffirm consensus before moving ahead. And at each point, the members have said yes. Early on, the board of the council gave a vote of confidence to proceed with the concept. Then, after the group secured its initial grant money from the state to begin, members were polled on their support to continue with final planning, and later, to proceed with vendor selection. Most recently, members have been asked to make their financial commitments to participating.

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