Two of the country's largest HIEs team up to share data on Midwest patients

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Two of the country's largest HIEs have announced a data-sharing agreement. (everythingpossible/GettyImages)

Two of the largest health information exchanges in the country, Missouri Health Connection and the Kansas Health Information Network, have signed an agreement to enable providers to have access to 20 million patients' health records in Kansas, Missouri and some areas of surrounding Midwest states.

The data-sharing agreement also includes KHIN subsidiary KAMMCO Health Solutions, also referred to as the Show-Me Health Information Network of Missouri (SHINE), a physician-led health information exchange in that state.

The partnership will help ensure that health care providers connected to either MHC or KHIN will have access to a comprehensive health record that includes data aggregated from both health information exchanges. The partnership also impacts providers in Midwest states contiguous to Missouri and Kansas, including Nebraska, Iowa, and Illinois, organization officials said.

HIEs across the country continue to expand their networks and data-sharing agreements even as the proposed Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement (TEFCA) leaves the future of HIEs a bit unclear. 

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's proposed TEFCA is attempting to provide a single "on-ramp" to nationwide data sharing. 

RELATED: 4 problems industry groups have with the ONC's Trusted Exchange Framework

In comments (PDF) to ONC, the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative—which represents 60 HIEs—urged ONC to not disrupt existing HIE models that are working effectively.

For providers and health plans in Missouri and Kansas, the ability to gain access to patients’ health records across the combined MHC and KHIN electronic health information exchange networks will help to reduce treatment delays, duplicative testing and procedures, enhance clinical decision making, and improve care coordination, the organizations said.

"Data sharing between MHC and KHIN dramatically increases the value of health information exchange to our health care customers. Making a connection to each other was a sound way for MHC and KHIN to demonstrate our commitment to serving the health care providers in our respective networks," Angie Bass, President & Chief Executive Officer of MHC, said.

RELATED: Most hospitals still use mail or fax to exchange data

Topeka, Kansas-based KHIN connects over 125 hospitals, 74% of Kansas physician practices, all of the federally qualified health centers and many other pharmacies, home health providers, health plans and long-term care facilities together to share data. 

As a result of the partnership, patients who travel between Missouri and Kansas can rely on the fact that their electronic health information will be available to their health care providers, said Laura McCrary, Executive Director, KHIN.

"Patients’ medical records will be electronically available to their physicians and other health care providers any time of day. This is critically important as there are times a patient may not be able to communicate all of their health history to their physician or hospitalist in an emergency. The connection of the KHIN and MHC networks solves many challenges with the exchanging of electronic health data today," McCrary said.