The Health Information Partnership for Tennessee -- which was established three years ago to operate a health data exchange in the state -- has announced that it is closing down, the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports (Memphis Commercial Appeal, 7/9).
Background on HIP TN
The Tennessee Office of eHealth received $11 million from the 2009 federal economic stimulus package to develop a statewide health information exchange, and it distributed the funds to HIP TN (Goedert, Health Data Management, 7/9).
Although HIP TN conducted tests and demonstrations of health data exchange among communities, it did not reach the point where it helped exchange clinical data in a production environment.
Reasons for Closing Down
Will Rice -- executive director of Tennessee's Office of eHealth Initiatives -- said the HIP TN board voted to shut down the organization because it believed the exchange "was ahead of the game and somewhat premature." He added that the state now is focused on helping health care providers meet the requirements of the meaningful use program.
Under the 2009 federal economic stimulus package, health care providers who demonstrate meaningful use of certified electronic health record systems can qualify for Medicare and Medicaid incentive payments.
Rice said, "[W]hile the state is not abandoning its effort of statewide HIE capacity, that's a longer-term horizon than what's needed to meet meaningful use."
Promoting Use of Direct Project
According to Rice, Tennessee officials plan to focus their health data exchange efforts on promoting the use of the Direct Project's clinical messaging protocol (Conn, Modern Healthcare, 7/9).
The Direct Project is a streamlined version of the Nationwide Health Information Network. It aims to facilitate online, standards-based exchange of medical data between health care providers (iHealthBeat, 6/21).
According to Rice, Tennessee has yet to spend more than 70% of the federal stimulus funding it received to establish a statewide health information exchange. Rice said he is confident that the remaining funds will be sufficient to promote education and awareness about the use of the Direct Project's messaging protocol (Modern Healthcare, 7/9).