Pennsylvania insurer Highmark and telecom giant Verizon are creating a massive new health information exchange, the two companies announced this week.
Once complete, the Highmark HIE will cover much of Pennsylvania and West Virginia, dwarfing the nearest regional exchanges, Heritage Valley Health System and the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center's ClinicalConnect, according to the Pittsburgh Gazette.
The HIE ultimately will be a pay-to-play system. It's meant to be "self-sustaining" and physicians, hospitals and others eventually will have to pay a fee to participate, Highmark officials say. No word yet on what those fees might be, nor how much Highmark and Verizon have spent on the system.
The HIE already has several hospital participants, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune, including the West Penn Allegheny's five-hospital system, Butler Health System, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, MedExpress Urgent Care, Vantage Health Network and The Washington Hospital.
One potential monkey wrench in the IT project is an ongoing U.S. Department of Justice anti-trust investigation into Highmark's attempted acquisition of the West Penn health system. Highmark is charged with creating a monopoly, price fixing and more. The acquisition deal has not yet closed.