Governor Patrick Launches Massachusetts Health Information Exchange

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Executive Office of Health and Human Services
Press Release
Contact: Alec Loftus – 617-573-1612; Paulette Song, 617-573-1610
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Governor Patrick Launches Massachusetts Health Information Exchange, Sending First Electronic Health Care Record from Boston to Springfield

First in the nation Medicaid-funded health care highway launched at ‘Golden Spike’ event

BOSTON – Tuesday, October 16, 2012 – Governor Deval Patrick today hit “send” on the first ever electronic health record transmission over the Massachusetts Health Information Exchange (HIE), sending his personal health data from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) in Boston to Baystate Health in Springfield. The new exchange allows for secure electronic health information to be transmitted between health care providers and organizations to better coordinate care, increase patient safety and lower health care costs.     

“In Massachusetts we believe that access to affordable, quality health care is a public good, and launching a secure, cutting edge health information exchange is an important step in delivering on that,” said Governor Patrick. 

Earlier this year the Obama Administration approved Massachusetts’ request for $16.9 million in funding for the project, which is a combination of American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) grant funding and Medicaid funds.

Governor Patrick was joined by health care leaders and physicians at MGH as he hit send on the transaction, sending his record in real time across the state. Baystate Health in Springfield confirmed receipt of the record in real time via videoconference. Participating in the event at MGH were representatives from 11 health care organizations in Massachusetts that are early adopters of the HIE system, also know as “Mass HI-way.”

“Health IT is one of the key components to advancing our health care system here in the Commonwealth,” said Sen. Richard T. Moore, Senate Chairman of the Joint Committee on Health Care Financing and a lead negotiator of the most recent health care cost containment legislation (Chapter 244 of the Acts of 2012). “The Massachusetts Health Information Exchange is an essential tool for achieving the highest quality of care while promoting our cost containment goals.”

“This is a great first step in expanding the exchange of health information across the Commonwealth,” said Representative Steven Walsh, House Chairman of the Health Care Financing Committee. “Allowing providers to access a patient’s medical history not only prevents duplicate services and leads to higher quality care, but is a critical aspect in lowering health care costs over the long term.”

“The Health Information Exchange is critical to improving health care outcomes across the Commonwealth,” said Secretary of Health and Human Service JudyAnn Bigby. “Today’s launch helps us support better coordination among providers such as those joining us today, and that means higher quality care delivered at a lower cost."

HHS, with the guidance of many stakeholders and overseen by the Health Information Technology Council, developed the Mass HI-way infrastructure to enable the secure exchange of health information from one hospital or provider to another, regardless of provider affiliation, location, or differences in technology. Patient health information will be transferred via electronic health records, secure email or a local area network device by healthcare providers in a private, secure, interoperable environment.

“The adoption and integration of electronic health records keeps Massachusetts at the forefront of health care advancement,” said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “MeHI is supporting the acceleration of these technologies to enhance our health care delivery system and strengthen workforce development in the state’s technology sector.”

"Quality, safety, and efficiency depend upon sharing healthcare information among patients, providers, and payers with patient consent," said Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. "The Massachusetts HIWay makes that possible.   As of October 16, 2012, healthcare information silos begin to disappear."

"We are honored to celebrate with others across Massachusetts the launching of the first statewide information exchange. The portability of information, while maintaining patient privacy, is today an integral part of providing health care. Patients are increasingly mobile and also more empowered in their health care decisions," says Peter Slavin, MD, president of Massachusetts General Hospital. "By expanding our connections and access to health information, we have the opportunity to be more efficient and most importantly, to improve the quality of care for our patients."

"Today’s event sends the message to our patients that we’re taking very seriously our charge to deliver the most coordinated and efficient care, whether you’re in Springfield, Boston, Pittsfield or Hyannis, and even – or especially – when your care is crossing boundaries of physicians’ offices, hospitals, or indeed any provider location,” said Mark R. Tolosky, JD, FACHE, president and CEO of Baystate Health.  “This can be across the state, or from one doctor’s office to another in the same community.  Connectivity and coordination, is the very key to great healthcare.”

The history of the Golden Spike

On May 10, 1869, the final golden spike was driven to connect the U.S. Central Pacific and Union Pacific Railroads. The event marked the completion of the transcontinental railroad line.

Supporting quotes:

Laurance Stuntz, MeHi:

“The Mass HIway is essential to enable provides physicians to share important patient information quickly and efficiently,” said Laurance Stuntz, director of MeHI. “It will ensure that patient care is coordinated, integrated, and that all the stakeholders are at the table with the patient positioned in the center.”

From Manu Tandon, CIO for EOHHS:

“We are grateful for the support of federal partners and our state’s healthcare thought leaders for coming together to help develop this milestone project on time and under budget” said Manu Tandon, Chief Information Officer at the Executive Office of Health and Human Services and Massachusetts State HIT Coordinator. “The Massachusetts Health Information Highway shall become the cornerstone for effective and efficient health care coordination across our state and the nation.”

Paulette Song
Deputy Communications Director
Executive Office of Health and Human Services
One Ashburton Place, 11th Floor
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