Massachusetts Recognized as a National Leader in Advancing the Use of Health Information Technology

April 1, 2013
Source 
Massachusetts eHealth Institute

Massachusetts has been recognized as a national leader for efforts to enhance the safety and quality of health care by embracing the use of health information technology. The federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology has recognized achievements of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech (MeHI) through its Grantee Recognition Program, including reaching Milestone 2 in e-prescribing and recording a top ten increase in directed and query-based exchange activity. 

“Massachusetts is a national and global health care leader, and it’s great to see this recognition for our efforts to promote the adoption of health technologies,” said Pamela Goldberg, CEO of the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative. “Our entire health care community works together to advance innovations that can improve the quality and delivery of care. We’re delighted to support those efforts.”

“We thank the Obama Administration for this recognition, which reflects the hard work of our partners across state government and in the private sector,” said Health and Human Services Secretary John Polanowicz. “The Patrick-Murray Administration is committed to providing affordable and innovative health care and the launch of our health information exchange last fall advances these goals.”

Despite widespread use of electronic and automated processes across many industries, our medical system still often relies upon paper records. As a result, different health care providers who treat a patient rarely have access to the same medical history. Use of paper records can also undermine good coordination of care among a patient and all of his/her care providers since health care officials have to copy and fax or mail needed information to each other. 

The Massachusetts eHealth Institute is working in close partnership with the Commonwealth’s Executive Office of Health and Human Services to help the Commonwealth’s health care providers, hospitals and pharmacies adopt and implement technologies that allow them to communicate securely and electronically, in real time.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is recognizing Massachusetts because:

  • Over 1,100, or 97%, of pharmacies in Massachusetts participate in e-prescribing. This means doctors have been electronically sending patients’ prescriptions directly to pharmacies, increasing the likelihood of medication compliance and reducing potential for errors due to handwriting, patients losing prescriptions, or incorrect manual entry into the pharmacy system.
  • Massachusetts has been recognized as a top-ten state for increase in exchange of electronic care summaries. This means that after a patient visits a specialist, for example, her primary care physician will electronically receive a care summary with details from the appointment. This care summary helps update the patient’s file and medical history and creates a complete view of her information for providers, thus ensuring better care coordination. With the significant number of physicians using electronic health records in Massachusetts and the long history of regional exchanges in Massachusetts, physicians are now joining the statewide health information exchange to securely, privately and efficiently support patients as they transition between different healthcare providers. 

“Adopting health technologies can make it easier and safer for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and others to communicate on their patients’ behalf,” added Laurance Stuntz, Director of the Massachusetts eHealth Institute at MassTech. “At MeHI, we’re working with our ONC and EOHHS colleagues to help providers and patients use these new technologies to attain better care.”

In October 2012, MeHI and the Executive Office of Health and Human Services launched the statewide health information exchange, allowing for secure electronic health information to be transmitted between health care providers and organizations.  MeHI recently announced a $2M HIway Implementation Grant Program which will fund projects that catalyze connections to the statewide Health Information Exchange, the Mass HIway. Proposals are due Tuesday, April 16, 2013, and awards will be announced in May.  To learn more please visit this press release.

The Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) at the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative is a unique public organization advancing health care innovation, technology adoption, and competitiveness across Massachusetts. MeHI is advancing the deployment of electronic health records systems in health care provider settings that are networked through a statewide health information exchange.  For more information, please visit mehi.masstech.org and follow ‪@MassEHealth.