Improving Data Flow to Providers

The National Governors Association (NGA) www.nga.org at a media event held at the National Press Club on December 9th, released their new NGA Roadmap, “Getting the Right Information to the Right Health Care Providers at the Right Time. A Road Map for States to Improve Health Information Flow between Providers” www.nga.org/cms/center

Lauren Block, Frederick Isasi, Kate Johnson, and Chelsea Kelleher from the NGA Center for Best Practices developed the NGA Roadmap document plus funding support was provided by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) www.healthit.gov.

In depth interviews were conducted with more than 90 state officials, plus additional interviews were held with experts and key players that included federal officials, providers, HIOs, academics, researchers, health plans, and others.

The Roadmap discusses the current state of clinical health information sharing, steps state policymakers can take to evaluate their current environment, and examples of states that have implemented strategies to overcome barriers to information flow.

Frederick Isasi, NGA, Center for Best Practices www.nga.org/cms/center Health Division Director, explained that the Center sees the Roadmap being used to drive the policies to enable the seamless flow of clinical data between providers while at the same time, working towards interoperability.

Lauren Block summed up the steps listed in the Roadmap that the states could take to increase the information flow between healthcare providers. She explained that the actions needed to improve information flow requires assembling a core team, conducting a legal and market analyses, determining primary barriers, selecting strategies, and implementing and evaluating these strategies.

Meghan Vanderstelt, Policy Director, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, www.michigan.gov/mdhhs pointed out how the role health technology has succeeded in Michigan. She also mentioned that the state Health Technology Commission and the Health Information Network have been very helpful in recent years.

The state of Michigan along with many others in the country are working to ensure that individuals served through community mental health programs can also have their physical health needs treated by primary and specialty healthcare providers.

Michigan has created a standardized behavioral health consent form for sharing information. The form allows patients to designate which providers are allowed to share their information and which information should not be shared.

Panelists agreed that there is a lack of clear universal technology and uniform data standards. The lack of standards reflects on the exchange of health information needed to lead to interoperability. However, according to the Roadmap some standards for information sharing do exist but yet there are no universal standards for all providers to observe.

Lucia Savage, Chief Privacy Officer at ONC, mentioned HHS ONC Roadmap on Interoperability titled “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation”. The document mentions how many states have already established state level policies and programs to promote interoperability requirements at the state level.

To provide even more specific support at the state level, Frederick Isasi reports that since last summer, the NGA Center for Best Practices is specifically working with three states, Illinois, Louisiana, and Michigan. The Center provides technical assistance to the three states with support from ONC.

As reported, the plan is to have the states develop and carry out action plans focused on one or more specific state policy priorities related to improving the sharing of patient health information. At the same time, NGA is helping the states address legal and market-based barriers to information flow.

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