North Dakota Launches HIE Boosted by High EHR Adoption Rates
Building on its status as having one of the highest electronic health record (EHR) adoption rates in the US, North Dakota recently announced the launch of its statewide health information exchange (HIE).
Eighty-three percent of eligible physicians are using EHRs in North Dakota, compared to the national average of 48 percent, according to state officials. This rate makes it far easier for providers to exchange information than in other, less wired regions and states. What’s more, nearly half of the state’s long term care facilities have implemented an EHR, with 33 percent indicating they’ll go live with a system within two years.
North Dakota’s Health Information Technology Director Sheldon Wolf, who also co-chairs of AHIMA’s HIE Practice Council, has been working with other state officials to develop the HIE for over four years. He attributes the state’s high EHR adoption rates due partly to federal “meaningful use” EHR Incentive Program funding, as well as matching funds from the state. He also credits the regional extension centers (RECs), which were created by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) to help rural communities attest to meaningful use.
Since the official announcement of the HIE’s launch on March 5, 2014, Wolf says seven providers currently provide data on the exchange, with 30 expected to provide data join soon. Wolf says the state is working with a public-private collaborative that will help connect North Dakota’s HIE with other HIEs nationwide within the next two months.
Wolf says state benchmarks for success of the HIE will be based on how efficiently data is exchanged.
“We don’t have any benchmarks regarding return on investment,” Wolf says. “We really look at this as a quality of care issue more than anything.”
Wolf hopes to see quality of care improvements and lowered costs within a year of the HIE’s launch. Within five years he expects to see “improved coordination of care by increasing the availability of health records,” Wolf says. “So when you go to see the physician, if it happens to be the one you usually see or if it’s one you’ve been referred to, they’ll have a more complete picture and better informed decision about your medical care.”