By Tom Lacock
Wyoming Medical Society
The Wyoming Department of Health announced this week that Medicity has been awarded a contract to be the vendor to develop the state’s Health Information Exchange (HIE). Contract negotiations are now underway with Medicity.
Medicity is based in Utah and also serves Colorado, and Montana, which Wyoming Medicaid Medical Director Jim Bush, MD, says will allow for easier interstate connections.
“They have an established track record and studied the RFP. They are coming in under time and under budget than the proposal asked for and delivering a really good project. I think they are listening to us and want to be partners with us for the long haul,” Bush said.
An HIE allows healthcare professionals and patients to appropriately access and securely share a patient’s vital medical information electronically. This can include connecting hospitals with laboratories, practices and other medical facilities. The hope is for more information sharing among providers to enhance patient safety, duplicate entries, and medication reconciliation.
Bush said he believes Wyoming physicians will see the benefit of the HIE as it will unlock the potential of the electronic medical records that have caused physicians headaches in the past.
“Our doctors are unhappy with EHRs and all the reporting because all we have done is turn them into typists,” Bush said. “A functioning HIE will allow them to have so much more patient information available, it will make their life easier and help their patients get better care.” (Aren’t those frustrations the product of the EMR and not fixable by which HIE the state chooses? I’m confused as to how Bush is going to make a doc’s life easier with an HIE when they all still use their existing EMR i.e. epic, etc, as the user interface and the HIE simply connects the data among those individual EMRs?)
The Wyoming Department of Health said it received 13 proposals in all for the HIE contract. One of the vendors not selected submitted an informal protest, which will not impact negotiations with Medicity. The project itself was a 90-10 match between the federal and state government with Wyoming putting up $1 million to fund the new HIE.
The work on the HIE will begin in Oct. of 2017 and the product itself will launch in late 2019 or early 2020. All connections to Wyoming provider offices, as well as hospitals will be free. It is not yet determined if providers will then be asked to take part in the sustainability funding of the project.
“We are still exploring which of the sustainability models will be best suited to Wyoming,” Bush said. “The state will be a paying partner, hospitals will have paying partnership. If there are costs to individuals it will be minimal.
“We would encourage our docs to get on the HIE and see how it improves their lives,” Bush said. “There is no cost to get connected and if they don’t want to participate they are certainly free to drop off.”
Everyone has learned more about HIE’s in the last five years. In some ways there were a lot of lessons learned about the first wave of HIE’s. A lot of those first HIE’s failed.”
The Department of Health has said its steering committee for the HIE project will meet again Aug. 22 from noon-1:30 p.m. at the Department of Health office in Cheyenne. A meeting invitation with call-in information and a meeting invitation will be sent soon to those on the steering committee. The Medicity team will be in Cheyenne for this meeting.
For more information or questions, please email Andrea Bailey (firstname.lastname@example.org).