Healthcare News & Insights

Massachusetts launches state health information exchange

While healthcare providers still struggle with some of the challenges of exchanging patients’ health information, Massachusetts has launched a system officials say is a first step toward a statewide health information exchange (HIE). 

On October 16, two healthcare providers, Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston and Bayside Medical Center in Springfield, completed the first transfer of electronic medical information via the brand new Massachusetts Health Information Exchange. The records transferred belonged to Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick.

Officials said a statewide system linking doctors’ offices throughout Massachusetts would be live about a year from now, The Republican reports.

Benefits of HIEs include the reduction of expensive redundant tests and a lower risk of dangerous drug interactions, as well as time saved because doctors will have quick access to new patients’ information when they visit.

One of the obstacles to wider adoption of HIEs is that doctors are using electronic health record (EHR) systems that aren’t compatible with each other, and Massachusetts officials say that’s one of the struggles they’re dealing with. In addition, healthcare providers often have an ingrained belief that sharing a patients’ information isn’t acceptable.

Supporters of HIEs hope that state programs like Massachusetts’ will help providers overcome those obstacles and begin sharing patients’ information.

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