Merger of Michigan HIEs to create one of nation's largest exchanges

Michigan's two largest health information exchanges plan to merge, creating one of the largest such organizations in the country, reports Crain's Detroit Business.

In October, the two organizations--Michigan Health Connect, based in Grand Rapids, and Great Lakes Health Information Exchange of East Lansing --announced an agreement to share data. At that time, it said members included 3,000 physician offices and 96 hospitals.

"Our missions were similar, and we believed we could do more better together than continuing to do it separately," Doug Dietzman, executive director of Michigan Health Connect, told the Detroit Free Press.

He also said he expects a new name and "kind of a new organization" to come from the merger, which is expected to close later this year.

In November, Michigan Health Connect also announced image sharing among its members.

The two HIEs represent two of seven such exchanges in Michigan, which have the eventual goal of being interconnected with health insurance companies through the Michigan Health Information Network.

Thirty-four Chicago-area hospitals are set to launch MetroChicago Health Information Exchange early this year, and to connect with a private HIE linking Rush Health's three hospitals and close to 1,000 physicians. Another 20 to 30 hospitals expected to join MetroChicago by this summer. Officials eventually hope to include all 89 metro-area facilities in the HIE.

Meanwhile, Kansas is setting up a new regulatory panel for health information exchange after the state Legislature dissolved the previous body. It plans a 23-seat panel, with a first meeting set for Feb. 17, according to the Kansas Health Institute.

The state's two networks--LACIE (Lewis and Clark Information Exchange) and KHIN (Kansas Health Information Network)--finally became interconnected in late December after feuding over how patient data can be used after it is transferred from one network to the other.

To learn more:
- read the Crain's article
- here's the Free Press story
- find the Kansas Health Institute piece

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