Health information exchanges take off in Texas

Tags: ehr, incentive, program, health information technology, meaningful use, health information exchange

Health information exchanges take off in Texas

posted 04.12.12

One component of meaningful use of health information technology, the process through which physicians can earn incentive bonuses through Medicare and Medicaid, is the ability to exchange clinical health data across secure electronic networks. Facilitating this connection are health information exchanges, or HIEs.

In Texas, HIEs are being established with $28 million in federal funds Texas received as a result of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act of 2009. The Texas Health Services Authority, a public-private partnership whose board includes physicians, oversees distribution of the money.

Thirteen community-based HIEs around the state applied for and were awarded contracts to provide electronic prescription, lab results delivery, and clinical summary exchange to the majority of physicians and hospitals in Texas. View the list of participants and the areas they serve on THSA’s website, here. THSA also provides an overview of HIEs in Texas in a six-page PDF, “Supporting Meaningful Use – Health Information Exchange Options for Texas Hospitals and Physicians.”

Portions of the state not covered by the 13 HIEs are known as Texas “white space.” For these areas, THSA launched the Texas Rural White Space Strategy. The strategy establishes five qualified health information service providers to provide HIE connectivity to health care professionals in the areas that do not have local HIEs. THSA estimates that 160 hospitals and 3,000 physicians are located in the Texas white space counties. These physicians are eligible to receive subsidized HIE services from any of the HISPs qualified to provide connectivity services in those counties.

Read more about HIEs in Texas Medicine’s February 2010 article, “The Gift of Sharing.” Physicians needing help with information technology also may turn to the Texas regional extension centers, which provide on-site consulting at subsidized and below-market rates. Visit the TMA website for more information. For questions related to HIEs, regional extension centers, and health information technology, call TMA at (880) 880-5720 or e-mail HIT@texmed.org.