Within the next two years, Pennsylvania is expected to launch a statewide health information exchange that would allow doctors, hospitals, pharmacies, insurers and the federal government to share patient health data, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports.
Work Already Underway
Pennsylvania has received $17 million from the 2009 federal economic stimulus package to help build its exchange.
In February, Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Corbett (R) selected members for the Pennsylvania eHealth Collaborative Advisory Committee, which will support the Pennsylvania eHealth Collaborative's efforts to boost health information sharing in the state.
Robert Torres -- state health IT coordinator and leader of the Pennsylvania eHealth Collaborative -- said the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT recently approved strategic and operational plans for Pennsylvania's health data exchange.
About the System
Pennsylvania is pursuing a decentralized approach that would use an umbrella system -- also called a "shared services" network -- to connect the six regional health information exchanges already operating or being developed in the state.
Stakeholders are working to develop the specifications for the umbrella system and could seek vendors to help build the network by the beginning of August.
Issues Yet To Be Resolved
In the meantime, stakeholders are holding meetings to discuss various issues, such as:
- Whether to have an opt-out or an opt-in system for patients to participate in the health data exchange;
- How to create a "push" and "pull" system that enables clinicians to "push" health data to each another while also allowing clinicians to "pull" patient data from another system during emergency situations;
- How to connect with independent physicians who are not associated with hospital systems or insurance carrier exchange networks; and
- Whether to allow researchers to access statewide data to study diseases, treatments and health care policies (Toland, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, 5/27).