An article in the current issue of Healthcare Informatics highlights the efforts of several pioneering regional health information organizations.
MedVirginia, a RHIO is Virginia, in January went live with a clinical messaging system after several years of development. The RHIO now has 342,000 patients in its database and 14 physician groups record one million transactions per month. MedVirginia created a "RHIO Lab" to advise prospective RHIO leaders by explaining its business model, governance structure and providing a technology demonstration.
Advice from RHIO veterans is helpful and can condense the learning curve, but each RHIO must be modified to meet the needs of its area, according to Healthcare Informatics. "There's never going to be a one-size-fits-all model that's going to work across the country," said Lori Evans, managing director of Manatt Health Solutions and acting CEO of the Taconic Health Information Network and Community RHIO in upstate New York.
MA-SHARE, a RHIO in Massachusetts, in June rolled out statewide electronic prescription access. Its member organizations invest upfront through in-kind donations and by paying yearly subscription fees. MA-SHARE is progressing toward sustainability, said Dr. John Halamka, CEO of MA-SHARE.
"2005 was the year of the hand-out, 2006 is the year of the grant and 2007 will be the year of business sustainability," Halamka said. Next year more than half of the RHIO's revenue will come from subscription fees, he said.
Geisinger Health System
Geisinger Health System in northeast Pennsylvania since 2002 has had an electronic health record system, and it is involved in a data exchange pilot project with two local hospitals outside the health system. They plan to expand the RHIO to a larger geographic area of five or six counties and to include small, rural hospitals that have fewer resources, Healthcare Informatics reports.
"These smaller hospitals don't have the money or the IT teams to focus on projects like this," said Jim Walker, Geisinger's chief medical information officer. "But I'm convinced that for health information technology to advance, we've got to find ways for robust organizations to share with the smaller ones or it will never work" (Raths, Healthcare Informatics, August 2006).