Highmark creates statewide health information network

Highmark is creating a health information exchange (HIE), containing millions of patients' medical records that will allow hospitals and doctors across Pennsylvania to exchange patient information.

The insurer, which announced the network Monday, already has signed up five organizations, and said one of them--West Penn Allegheny Health System--will be connected by next month. The system will be available to all physicians and hospitals across Pennsylvania and West Virginia within two years, reported the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.

Highmark said its system will have the flexibility to adjust to each provider's needs, whether they are advanced or slow in adopting electronic records, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "Our goal was to be able to integrate with all providers," said Augusta Kairys, Highmark's vice president of provider technologies.

"We welcome all hospitals, physicians and health insurers to become part of our HIE," Highmark Executive Vice President of Health Services Deborah Rice said. "It's about working collaboratively as a health care community and using the available health care data to provide the best possible care."

Highmark eventually plans to make the system "self-sustaining," requiring clinics, doctors and hospitals to pay a fee to access it. However, Highmark would neither disclose fee structures for participating providers nor the project's total costs, the Pittsburgh Business Times reported.

To learn more:
- read the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review article
- check out the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article
- read the Pittsburgh Business Times article