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Health information network announces Wichita, state providers to go live in July

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, May 31, 2012, at 5:23 p.m.

Officials from Wichita Health Information Exchange and the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, which helped create the exchange, said Thursday that some local providers will be among the first in the state to go live on the Kansas Health Information Network, a statewide patient health information exchange.

Those local providers are Wesley Medical Center and Via Christi Hospitals on St. Francis, Harry and St. Teresa.

Earlier this week KHIN announced that it expects to have its statewide electronic health information exchange operational in July. Also expected to go live early on the KHIN network are Hays Medical Center and Hutchinson Clinic, said Allen Laramore, project manager of the Wichita exchange.

The Wichita exchange is one of three partners in the KHIN. The others are the Kansas Hospital Association and the Kansas Medical Society.

KHIN and WHIE have the same goal: to establish a secure, electronic network that allows providers to quickly share patient information to facilitate a patient’s treatment and avoid duplicating costly tests.

Both organizations are using the same company, Nashville, Tenn.-based Informatics Corporation of America, to develop and operate the technology that allows health providers using different electronic health records systems to share information on a single network.

Jon Rosell, executive director of the Medical Society of Sedgwick County, said the reason there is a Wichita-specific health information exchange is that there is a lot of patient information shared among providers in the Wichita area — doctors, hospitals and clinics. It’s much greater than it is between a rural hospital and a specialist in Wichita, for example.

“Records churn in our medical trade area at a high rate,” Rosell said. “That’s where our (WHIE) focus is … why it’s important in our region to have our own network.”

Laramore said about a dozen other providers are in the process of becoming active on WHIE and by extension, KHIN, including West Wichita Family Physicians, Family Medicine East and Wichita Family Medicine Specialists.

Rosell said he expects participation among providers to begin ramping up. Providers pay an annual fee to participate in WHIE and KHIN. The fees for hospitals are based on the number of beds they have. For physician practices it’s based on the number of doctors in the group. For physician practices, the fee is about $125 a year per physician, Laramore said.

Safety-net clinics such as GraceMed and public health departments are exempt from the annual fee, Rosell said. “We don’t want any disincentives (to participate in the health information exchange),” he said.

Federal government incentives are expected to help increase provider participation. Medicare and Medicaid provide financial incentives to health care providers of up to $43,000 and $63,000, respectively, over five years to providers that implement electronic health records systems and participate in health information exchanges.

“There are lots of physicians in town who have received incentive payments,” Rosell said.

Reach Jerry Siebenmark at 316-268-6576 or jsiebenmark@wichitaeagle.com.

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