Massachusetts launches statewide health information exchange

Gov. Deval Patrick, John Halamka's wife among first inducted health records
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After much buildup, Massachusetts officially launched its statewide health information exchange this morning. At a kickoff event, known as the "Golden Spike," at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, Gov. Deval Patrick (D-Mass.) sent his own health record between Mass General and Springfield, Mass.-based Baystate Medical Center.

"This marks another huge advancement for the state's healthcare information infrastructure and the safe and efficient transportation of [electronic health records]," Micky Tripathi, CEO for Waltham, Mass.-based Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative's (MAeHC) Quality Data Center, said in a statement.

In talking with FierceHealthIT prior to the HIE's launch, Tripathi said the effort removes the use of central repositories for storing clinical data.

Hospitals can query one another for information, "but there's no large database of clinical information sitting in the center," Tripathi said.

In a post to his Life as Healthcare CIO blog, Beth Israel CIO John Halamka highlighted another aspect of the ceremonial first transactions--the exchange of his wife's records from BIDMC to Partners Healthcare, a payer, a primary care provider and MAeHC. Halamka's wife was diagnosed with breast cancer last December.

"Two months after she began treatment, her health plan called and told her, 'we think you have cancer because you have incurred $25,000 in chemotherapy costs since December," Halamka wrote. "Her out-of-network caregivers had no visibility into her cancer care. Her care at multiple institutions was not aggregated for quality measurement. All of that ended today."

The HIE, which secured $16.9 million in funding from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in August, was the first in the nation to receive federal funding.

To learn more:
- here's the MAeHC announcement (.pdf)
- read Halamka's post

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