Below are a few of the most frequently asked questions on the Mass HIway.
Q. What is the Mass HIway?
The State-wide health information exchange, also known as the Massachusetts Health Information Highway (the Mass HIway), enables the electronic movement of health-related information among diverse organizations, such as doctors’ offices, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies, skilled nursing facilities and health plans. The Mass HIway facilitates the exchange of clinical information among varied health care information systems, while maintaining the meaning of the information being exchanged, regardless of provider affiliation, location or differences in technology.
Note: The Mass HIway is not the health insurance exchange (HIX) – that is a separate program called the HealthConnector.
Q. Who can use the Mass HIway?
Currently, the Mass HIway is available to healthcare organizations which are involved in coordinating patient care, e.g. hospitals, medical practices, laboratories, pharmacies, long term care and behavioral health organizations, health plans. Eligible organizations must be a legal entity that is a Covered Entity or a Business Associate of a Covered Entity and may range from a solo practitioner to a large healthcare delivery system. In order to ensure that the Mass HIway provides a secure environment for participating organizations all potential users will go through a verification process by the state before their account is activated.
Q. How much does it cost to join the Mass HIway?
Participating organizations pay an annual fee for participation with the Mass HIway. The Mass HIway rate card describes the annual participation rate by tier and type of connection.
Q. Is the information I send over the Mass HIway secure?
Yes, information sent over the Mass HIway is private and secure. The Mass HIway has created, and enforces, a “trust fabric” – the set of technical security tools and approaches, and legal policies to which all participants must agree, e.g. Participation Agreement, Patient Consent. A message sent via the Mass HIway is encrypted so that it is readable only by the intended receiver. Even if someone were able to intercept a secure Mass HIway message, he/she would be unable to decrypt it or read it. The Mass HIway uses security best practices designed to keep health information private and secure. These practices are mandated by federal and state government and include physical, administrative and technical safeguards.
Q. How may the Mass HIway benefit my organization?
Currently, when doctors need to share health information about a patient with providers or institutions outside (or, even within) their organization, gathering and communicating patient health information can take hours or even days. Sometimes the information is missing or not available at all, leaving providers with an incomplete picture of a patient’s health status. Implementing the Mass HIway is a critical component to enabling the Commonwealth’s collective care community. Connected organizations and their providers will directly benefit from participating in the State-wide health information exchange and begin to:
- Improve and streamline care coordination
- Reduce medical errors/Improve patient safety
- Reduce duplication
- Support Meaningful Use achievement
- Reduce costs throughout the care delivery system
- Ease and improve public health reporting and analytics
- Provide a foundation for accountable care organizations and value-based healthcare models
- Enhance patient care communication among providers
- Increase patient engagement with providers on care plans
Q. Is connecting to the Mass HIway required to achieve Meaningful Use Stage 2 in Massachusetts?
For Meaningful Use Stage 2, providers will be required to exchange EHR data with health care organizations as well as exchange patient data when care is transitioned from one provider to another. The Mass HIway team helps organizations and their providers understand the technical options available to securely exchange information on the Mass HIway to meet Meaningful Use requirements.
For Medicare or Medicaid EHR Incentive Payment Program questions regarding Meaningful Use requirements, contact:
Massachusetts Regional Extension Center
Medicaid EHR Incentive Payment Program Operations
Q. Is my organization required to connect to the Mass HIway?
Currently connection to the Mass HIway is voluntary. Massachusetts law, however, requires that all medical providers in the state be connected to the Mass HIway by 2017. (M.G.L. ch 118I, sec. 7)
Q. How do I join the HIway?
An organization can start the process by calling 1-855-MA-HIWAY (1-855-624-4929) - select option 1, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Q. Are Massachusetts healthcare organizations starting to connect to the Mass HIway?
Yes. The Mass HIway launched on October 2012 with the following organizations executing Mass HIway transactions. We continue to work to connect new organizations with the Mass HIway.
- Atrius Health
- Baystate Health
- Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
- Children’s Hospital, Boston
- Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative
- Network Health
- Partners Healthcare
- Tufts Medical Center
- Vanguard Health Systems
Additionally, MeHI recently awarded Mass HIway Implementation Grants to 32 organizations and their trading partners to connect to the Mass HIway and exercise their use case. Review the press release for a complete listing.
Q. Do I need an EHR system to connect to the Mass HIway?
No, you may connect to the Mass HIway using webmail – a web-based secure messaging product that may leverage the full services of the Mass HIway.
Q. What if I have several EHR systems at my facility?
Many factors come into play when evaluating a connection to the Mass HIway. This becomes especially important when thinking through the connection of multiple data sources, e.g. inpatient EHR, outpatient EHR, ancillary clinical systems. Factors to consider include: the number of data sources, the degree of current connectivity between these systems, the staff resources to support integration.
Q. How do I find out if care providers in my referral network are connecting to the Mass HIway?
Currently, we do not publish the list of connected providers. We will, however, help you find appropriate trading partners, or support you connecting your preferred trading partner to the Mass HIway.
Q. Does the Mass HIway maintain a clinical repository?
No. The Mass HIway does not maintain a repository of clinical data.
Q. What are my connection options?
There are a (four) ways you may connect to the Mass HIway:
Webmail – For organizations with no EHR or who are unable to export data from their EHR, webmail may be a good option.
EHR Direct – For organizations who have an EHR vendor which has integrated a gateway into their vendor product, you may evaluate using that service to connect to the Mass HIway.
LAND – For organizations who simply need a gateway service to the Mass HIway, the LAND appliance (a preconfigured Direct-compliant gateway) is a good option.
Direct – Finally, for those organizations who desire more flexibility in configuring their gateway, and who have technical staff to do so, may consider building and implementation their own Direct gateway.
Q. Can patients access the Mass HIway?
Not during Phase 1. In Phase 2, however, patients will be invited to join the HIway.