Federal grant will push forward state effort to share medical information

State health officials said Thursday that an influx of $12.2 million in federal grant money will help push forward the state's latest effort to create a system that would allow medical providers and hospitals to easily share patients' medical records.

The grant from the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services will go toward the latest effort, led by the state's newly formed Office of Health Strategy, to create the information exchange system. The Connecticut Mirror reports that it's the state's fourth attempt to create a health information exchange since the state started investing millions into unsuccessful plans to build a system in 2007.

The CMS grant comes after $5 million in federal dollars the state got in 2017 for help planning the information exchange. States that applied for the grant announced Thursday had to show how their plan would use shareable medical data to improve disease management, serve their Medicaid populations, address the opioid crisis and improve overall health care, according to a news release from Gov. Dannel P. Malloy's office.

The funding will allow the state to launch a pilot program testing the exchange.

"Having a health information exchange that works for providers and patients across the state will improve the quality of care for consumers, help us identify gaps in care and (health care) disparities, and get us to lower overall (health care) costs," Lt. Governor Nancy Wyman said in the news release.

Giving doctors and medical providers the ability to share health information across companies and health care systems will allow for more accurate measures of the quality of the medical care and help state officials see trends and disparities in Connecticut's population better than analyses based on insurance claims data, the news release said. 

"Providers will be able to exchange clinical and diagnostic data in real time — efficiencies that will save time and resources for (health care) systems and patients," OHS Health Information Technology Officer Allan Hackney said in the release. 

State officials expect the health information exchange will be in place by early 2019.

m.shanahan@theday.com

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