Massachusetts on Friday launched three regional health IT pilot programs to study the effectiveness of broad implementation of electronic health records, which could serve as a model for statewide or nationwide adoption of electronic records, InformationWeek reports. The project aims to show that sharing electronic records, lab reports and other data could help physicians make better medical decisions, reduce errors and lower costs.
The not-for-profit Massachusetts eHealth Collaborative - a coalition launched last year by 34 health care providers, health plans and insurers in the state - is leading the pilots. During pilot testing -- which will be conducted in Brockton, Newburyport and Berkshire -- the communities will individually implement the systems, but they will not be connected to each other (Kolbasuk McGee, InformationWeek, 5/13).
The three communities will serve as the first phase of the collaborative's goal to implement EHRs across the entire state. It will take nine months to one year to fully implement the technology at about 200 facilities with 600 physicians (iHealthBeat, 4/26).
Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R) said he was not sure whether there would be any savings during early phases of the pilots, but he believes the program would help improve patient care and clinical data sharing for research, which could result in faster medical discoveries, InformationWeek reports. Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) said that while Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts is spending $50 million on the three communities participating in the pilots, the federal government has not decided whether to allocate $50 million in funding for health IT projects in several states, InformationWeek reports (InformationWeek, 5/13).