Getting it done in Oregon with HITOC, REC, & OHN
Interoperability of clinical systems and a robust health information exchange will be key to achieving the goals of using health IT: helping lower the cost of health care, and improving quality of care and clinical outcomes. This will not be instantaneous, or simple. In Oregon we have been working very hard in a collaborative effort to achieve these goals.
Converting disparate silos of paper records systems to disparate EHR silos will not move us closer to the goal of lower costs and improved quality and clinical outcomes, and many rural providers do not currently have the bandwidth to participate in a Health Information Exchange (HIE). Last June, Oregon passed HB2009 which established the Health Information Technology Oversight Council (HITOC). The HITOC will coordinate Oregon’s public and private statewide efforts in electronic health records adoption and the eventual development of a statewide system for HIE. I am honored to participate in the HITOC Strategic Workgroup where we are working to make recommendations to the HITOC for the development of a statewide Health Information Organization (HIO).
We have had our first meetings and are beginning to delve into the five domains for an HIO: Governance, Technology Infrastructure, Business and Technical Operations, Finance, and Legal and Policy. One of the things I immediately recognized is that there will need to be a sustained focus on rural and small providers to ensure that we have as wide adoption and connectivity as possible. The state has been awarded $8,579,992 of federal funds to develop HIE plans from the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program. Over the next few months, the Strategic Workgroup will be submitting recommendations to HITOC for Oregon’s strategic and operational plan, required by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology within the next six months.
OCHIN, Inc. and OHSU partnered on a proposal to become Oregon’s Regional Extension Center (REC), bringing an additional $13.2 million to the state for the advancement of health information exchange and adoption of Electronic Health Records (EHR). HITOC will be working closely with the REC to ensure coordination and avoid duplication of effort. With the work of HITOC and the REC, along with the efforts of the Oregon Health Network (OHN), which has received Rural Healthcare Pilot Program funding of $20.2 million to develop a broadband network for healthcare statewide, Oregon should be well poised to have the backbone infrastructure in place as development of an HIO is underway. We are continuing to be as inclusive as possible and reach out to all stakeholders throughout the state.