Maine Launches Nationâ€™s Largest Statewide Electronic Health Exchange
July 31, 2009Physicians, hospital leaders, consumer advocates, and public health officials gathered in Portland today to announce that Maine’s nonprofit HealthInfoNet network will “go live” this summer, making Maine the largest statewide electronic health information exchange (HIE) using secure clinical data. Only Delaware and Vermont have similar statewide exchanges in operation.
Under development for the past five years, HealthInfoNet will allow caregivers quick and efficient access to key clinical information they need to provide the best possible health care for their patients. Health information technology is a major element of the nation’s emerging health reform strategy. Electronic exchanges such as HealthInfoNet will be critical in connecting the rapidly growing number of providers using electronic medical records and other systems.
This announcement coincided with a visit to Maine by the Obama Administration’s top health information technology official, Dr. David Blumenthal, who visited Maine Medical Center’s emergency department to see first hand how the new system will be used by medical care teams.
HIEs are expected to reduce medical errors and lead to better, more informed treatment decisions that will save lives and money. As HealthInfoNet expands services across the state, an estimated $50 million per year in health care costs is expected to be saved as caregivers order fewer unnecessary and duplicative tests, procedures, prescriptions, and hospital admissions.
Beginning this summer, 15 hospitals (including Franklin Memorial Hospital) and more than 2,000 health care providers in Maine will have access to a new consolidated “electronic health record” made possible by HealthInfoNet that will contain critical information drawn from records that have traditionally been separately maintained in physician practices, hospitals, laboratories, and other settings.
Ralph Johnson, chief information officer at Franklin Memorial Hospital, has been involved with the project since its 2004 feasibility study, which conceived the concept that led to HealthInfoNet. “We need to leverage the technologies available to us to provide the best patient care available. In this age of electronic medical records we would be doing our patients a disservice if we did not participate in this extraordinary program,” he said.
Armed with more complete and timely information about a patient—diagnoses, medications, laboratory results, x-ray reports, and more—caregivers say they can provide better quality care and improve the coordination of care, particularly for those patients who see several providers and receive care in more than one community or care setting.
“As a rural health care resource, access to patient information from the major medical centers can make all the difference in caring for our patients,” said Rebecca Ryder, president of Franklin Community Health Network and Franklin Memorial Hospital. “Immediate access to critical patient data is paramount to safe patient care and in this day and age of advanced technology we need to participate in this program for our patient’s sake.”
For more information, contact HealthInfoNet executive director Devore Culver at firstname.lastname@example.org or project consultant Jim Harnar at email@example.com or visit www.hinfonet.org.
HealthInfoNet was established in early 2006 as a statewide independent nonprofit organization to build and operate a statewide network that will allow medical care teams at certain health care providers to electronically share clinical information about their patients to improve patient care and enhance patient safety. Its establishment followed a feasibility study and planning and development process that found strong support for a new network. HealthInfoNet’s Board of Directors includes physicians, hospital leaders, consumers, employers, government officials, insurance executives and others.
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