Statewide health information exchange efforts hit a snag in Michigan

The electronic exchange of healthcare information on a statewide level has proved a difficult task in Michigan, Crain's Detroit Business reports. Instead of cooperating to achieve interoperability, the state's two largest health information exchanges--Great Lakes HIE in Okemos and Michigan Health Connect in Grand Rapids--have, thus far, been using separate technology systems that aren't interoperable with one another.

While talks have been taking place to spur data sharing between the two systems, Doug Dietzman, executive director of Michigan Health Connect, told Crain's that an agreement could be within a year, but there's no rush.

"I don't have any providers coming to me and saying that this is something I need you to do," Dietzman said. "When they start saying that, then maybe we will move faster."

What's more, while an HIE task force convened in June by the Michigan Health and Hospital Association determined that a single, statewide HIE would be the best route for the state, according to Crain's, some stakeholders--like Great Lakes HIE Executive Director Carol Parker--remain at odds with that sentiment.

"Last year we decided to expand statewide to be [financially] sustainable," she told Crain's. "We don't want to overwhelm participants with costs because it is expensive to develop the infrastructure for an HIE."

In an interview with InformationWeek Healthcare, Jennifer Covich Bordenick, CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based eHealth Initiative, agreed with Parker.

"You don't resolve the issue [of competition] by picking one HIE," Bordenick said. "You resolve the issue by having standards and systems that talk to each other. If you don't do that, you're going to have the same problem in another six months when another HIE pops up."

That's exactly the approach Massachusetts is taking with its statewide health information exchange, which is set to go live next week.

To learn more:
- read the Crain's article (registration required)
- here's the InformationWeek piece