Hawaii takes first step towards island-wide HIE

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Officials at North Hawaii Community Hospital (NHCH) recently announced that they have been awarded a $680,000 contract to develop an island-wide health information exchange (HIE), reports Healthcare IT News.

Development of the HIE has already begun, and will continue through 2012, according to NHCH officials. The network is expected to serve as many as 32,000 patients in the area and will be developed in partnership with Wellogic. The implementation of an HIE in Hawaii represents continued investment in healthcare IT.

“NHCH has pioneered the use of electronic health records by North Hawaii providers and helped to achieve a nearly 95 percent adoption rate – one of the highest for any community nationwide,” Susan Hunt, chief executive officer and project director of awarding body Hawaii Island Beacon Community (HBIC), told the news source. “The region is more than ready to take the next step, and both patients and providers will benefit from the streamlined operations that a secure HIE system makes possible.”

As the project develops, HBIC will continue to provide advice, support and training to healthcare providers migrating from paper-based records to clinical informatics systems in collaboration with the Hawaii Pacific Regional Extension Center. Wellogic will also provide physicians and supporting healthcare IT personnel with ongoing training in the use of medical informatics and HIE systems.

The development of HIEs has been a priority for many other states. According to Information Week, IDC Health Insights predicts that continued adoption of medical informatics technology will encourage the development of large-scale HIE projects across the country.

The news source reports that development of secure direct messaging protocols also has significant implications for the healthcare IT landscape. In December, officials in Ohio and Mississippi reported the successful transmission of secure patient messaging between HIEs in the two states. Such developments could mean a nationwide network of patient health information, enabling physicians to access medical data from other states in order to provide timely and adequate treatment for patients.