Colorado HIE efforts spotlight privacy issues

A recent Denver Post article about the Colorado health information exchange (HIE) reveals the disconnect between the nationwide effort to connect health records online to improve patient care and safety and the continuing worries about the security of online medical records.

To those who follow this field, the most important fact in the piece is that 800 providers have signed up with the Colorado Regional Extension Center--part of CORHIO, the Colorado HIE--to get free EHR consulting services. CORHIO expects to connect its first hospital within the next month. But the major focus of the article was on the critics who say that HIEs will increase the already high risk of unauthorized individuals getting their hands on personal health information. Sure, that's a problem, and one that technology should be able to address. But at this point, what's critical is to get all the information silos connected.

The Colorado Regional Health Information Organization expects to receive more than $9 million from the federal government as part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act's funding of state HIE initiatives. The state organization will use some of the funds to assist local HIEs that already are operating across Colorado. Aside from Kaiser Permanente--which has its own network--the community exchanges that are the furthest along are those in the San Luis Valley, Boulder and Colorado Springs. The Grand Junction HIE has been in operation for five years and is a national leader in this area. Pueblo and parts of metropolitan Denver are slated to get wired next. 

To learn more:
- see the Denver Post story
- get information about the federal State HIE Cooperative Agreement Program

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