Missouri HIE up and running

After three years building its infrastructure, Missouri Health Connection has rolled out the state's health information exchange.

The exchange brings together more than 7,000 physicians, 62 hospitals and 350 clinics in the effort--representing more than 45 percent of the inpatient care provided in Missouri.

The non-profit dedicated to building the exchange "has essentially built the freeway that Missouri healthcare providers will use to access the vital information [they need] to make medical decisions," Mary Kasal, the exchange's chief executive officer, said in an announcement.

The exchange can connect with all certified EHR systems, unlike those limited to the technology of a specific vendor.

"MHC's vendor-neutral approach connects a broad array of health systems, users and applications, which elevates the volume and value of information within the network while making truly comprehensive electronic health records possible," the release notes.

The system alerts physicians when their patient is admitted to a hospital, when the patient requires out-of-town emergency care, when referring physicians provide test results and more. In addition, providers can securely exchange continuity of care documents.

Care coordination and interoperability are improving among HIEs overall, according to a recent Chilmark Research report, but there's still room for improvement. Lack of reimbursement for care coordination remains a disincentive, despite the government's increased emphasis on it.

In setting requirements for Stage 3 of Meaningful use, not all the details have been worked out for HIE patient record queries, but the ONC's health IT Policy Committee has recommended a simple, flexible structure.

Major hurricanes and tornadoes in recent years--including the 2011 tornado that leveled Joplin, Mo.--have highlighted the need to share health data during widespread disasters, prompting 10 states to work together to provide records for people displaced from their homes. They're working to create an infrastructure using Direct technology to maintain interstate connections during a disaster.

To learn more:
- find the announcement