Funding underway for public private-sector collaboration on community electronic health information exchange

Washington DC 21 July 2004The Foundation for eHealth Initiative (eHI) has selected nine communities nationwide that are being awarded funding, collectively totalling over $2 million, through the Connecting Communities for Better Health (CCBH) programme to pursue local projects in electronic health information exchange. Announcement of the CCBH awards were made as part of the National Health Information Infrastructure 2004: Cornerstones for Electronic Healthcare Conference during the Secretarial Summit on Health Information Technology (HIT) hosted by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and at which Thompson and National Health Information Technology Co-ordinator David Brailer, MD, PhD, unveiled the nation's first strategic framework report on a ten-year initiative to develop electronic health records and other uses of health information technology and advance HIT adoption.

Advertisement

The CCBH programme is funded through a co-operative agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration Office for the Advancement of Telehealth. The goal of CCBH is to implement activities on a national, regional and local basis that will lay the foundation for an interoperable, electronic, standards-based health information infrastructure to support patients, clinicians and those responsible for population health.

"HRSA is pleased to be working with the Foundation for eHealth Initiative to carry out the CCBH programme. We believe our joint efforts will make a significant contribution to the learnings about how community electronic health information exchange can work and how it can markedly improve health care delivery in communities across America", stated Elizabeth Duke, PhD, Administrator for the Health Resources and Services Administration.

Janet M. Marchibroda, CEO of the eHealth Initiative and Executive Director of the Foundation for eHealth Initiative, added: "The CCBH awards are historic because they represent a first in collaboration between the public and private sectors to support electronic health information exchange at the community level, at a time when there is strong and growing support amongst all health care stakeholders, both within the public and private sectors, for transforming our health care system from a paper-based enterprise to a modern, electronic model."

David Brailer, MD, PhD, the National Health Information Technology Co-ordinator, spoke about the national importance of the CCBH programme and its awardees: "CCBH is emblematic of the practical, action-oriented, results producing co-operation between the public and private sector that is required to advance electronic health information exchange and to inform national policy-making on HIT. Insights and evaluations from CCBH will also provide useful information, tools and resources to help reach President Bush's goal to give a majority of Americans interoperable, electronic health records in a decade."

The nine CCBH awardees were selected through a rigorous competitive process from among 134 community multi-stakeholder applicants in 42 states and the District of Columbia. Applicants were required to include in their proposals the involvement of at least three stakeholder groups, a clinical focus, the use of standards, and matching funds.

CCBH awardees are:

  • Connecting Colorado, Denver, Colorado
  • Indiana Health Information Exchange, Central Indiana Healthcare Collaboration, Indianapolis, Indiana
  • MA-SHARE MedsInfo e-Prescribing Initiative,Waltham, Massachusetts
  • MD/DC Collaborative for Healthcare Information Technology, Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area
  • Santa Barbara County Care Data Exchange, Santa Barbara, California
  • Taconic Health Information Network and Community, Fishkill, New York
  • Tri-Cities TN-VA Care Data Exchange, Kingsport, Tennessee
  • Whatcom County e-Prescribing Project, Bellingham, Washington
  • Wisconsin Health Information Exchange, National Institute for Medical Informatics, Midwest, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

"Today, CCBH is proud to announce its first nine community awardees who in the name of America's patients and better health care are tackling the thorny technical, legal , financial and organisational change aspects of implementing electronic health information exchange. They are in the vanguard of the rapidly increasing number of communities throughout our nation that are mobilizing to engage in implementing this type of exchange", stated John Glaser, PhD, President of the Foundation for eHealth Initiative and Vice President and Chief Information Officer of Partners HealthCare System.

CCBH awardees are pioneers of electronic health information exchange and represent a broad range of community project models. CCBH project participants are in both rural and urban areas, involve a myriad of stakeholder combinations and are in various stages of electronic health information exchange, from nascent to more mature projects.

CCBH awardees will test and evaluate strategies that will help address important challenges related to the use of HIT and the implementation of health information exchange including:

  • Mobilizing information to support the prescribing process;
  • Testing and evaluating financial incentives to support the use of HIT;
  • Exploring methods to leverage existing HIT applications to support public health surveillance and response;
  • Exploring methods to accurately link patient data;
  • Exploring methods to share information across multiple states and jurisdictions;
  • Furthering the implementation of community-wide health information exchange and putting tools and resources into the public domain.

"The findings from CCBH's experiences and evaluations will be important on both a national and local level because CCBH provides a commonality in its projects together through the use of national data standards, while allowing local innovation and practice to flourish", John Glaser stated.

CCBH project findings will be disseminated as practical "how to" guidance for interested communities across the country through the Connecting Communities for Better Health Programme's Learning Network and Online Resource Center as well as its Learning Forums which create the opportunity for face-to-face dialogue and learning. "Through the Connecting Communities for Better Health programmes, communities like ours will be able to share best practices and lessons learned, so that we can help each other be successful in sharing health information among systems and across institutions, in order to improve patient care and health outcomes", stated Liesa Jenkins, Executive Director of Kingsport Tomorrow and Team Facilitator for the Tri-Cities TN/VA Care Data Exchange Project.

Lastly, Janet Marchibroda stated: "CCBH will provide important feedback to the creation of a common framework and standards-based network of networks that safeguards privacy and is built incrementally", as recommended in a report released last week by Connecting for Health, a public-private collaborative of over 100 public and private stakeholders designed to address barriers to electronic connectivity in health care. The collaborative is operated by the Markle Foundation and receives additional support from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The purpose of the Connecting Communities for Better Health Programme is to provide seed funding and technical support to multi-stakeholder collaboratives within communities, both geographic and non-geographic, that are using electronic health information exchange and other IT tools to drive improvements in health care quality, safety and efficiency.

Funded under a co-operative agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration Office for the Advancement of Telehealth, Connecting Communities for Better Health is implementing activities on a national, regional and local basis that will lay the foundation for an interconnected, electronic, standards-based health information infrastructure to support patients, clinicians and those responsible for population health.

The eHealth Initiative and the Foundation for eHealth Initiative are independent, non-profit affiliated organisations whose missions are the same: to drive improvement in the quality, safety, and efficiency of health care through information and information technology. Both organisations are focused on engaging multiple and diverse stakeholders including hospitals and other health care organisations, clinician groups, employers and purchasers, health plans, health care information technology organisations, manufacturers, public health agencies, academic and research institutions, and public sector stakeholders, to define and then implement specific actions that will address the quality, safety and efficiency challenges of the health care system through the use of interoperable information technology. More information is available in the VMW May 2004 article Foundation for eHealth Initiative launches on-line Community Learning Network and Resource Center


Leslie Versweyveld

[Medical IT News][Calendar][Virtual Medical Worlds Community][News on Advanced IT]