Today’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that the community data pooling organization, Wisconsin Health Information Organization (WHIO), has launched a database that will now be available to large healthcare systems and, eventually, to consumers. The database will improve transparency and allow better understanding of healthcare quality and cost dynamics:
The database is drawn from the experiences of more than 1.6 million people and 72 million treatment services. In April, WHIO will add data from Dean HMO and Medicaid, which includes BadgerCare, the state health program for the working poor, adding the experiences of 1 million more insured people to the database.
“To us, the real opportunity is to look across all the claims aggregated here and get a picture of where we have cost-effective health care being delivered in Wisconsin, and where we have an opportunity to improve the cost-effectiveness of health care,” said Karen Timberlake, secretary of the state Department of Health Services and a WHIO board member.
“There isn’t a database like this that’s been available to providers to measure these sorts of things. And if you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it,” said Larry Rambo, chief executive of Humana’s Wisconsin, Michigan and Illinois markets.
Wisconsin is among a handful of states – including Minnesota, Massachusetts, Oregon and Washington – that have put infrastructures in place for pooling health data to improve quality and transparency, according to a briefing paper written this year by the consulting and actuarial company Milliman.
Click here for more information on these information exchanges.
Michigan is pursuing stimulus funding to advance health IT:
The Recovery Act included more than $25 billion in grants aimed at improving the nation’s technology infrastructure and expanding adoption of electronic health records. The unprecedented amount of federal funding for health IT and broadband initiatives has provided some economic hope to states like Michigan, which boasts the highest unemployment rate in the country.
Faced with 15 percent unemployment, a $2.8 billion budget deficit and the struggling automotive industry, officials in Michigan are hoping the federal government’s IT investments provide a long-term windfall for the Midwestern state. With an eye toward enticing more technology firms to set up shop within the Michigan’s borders, state officials have teamed up with business groups and local universities to coordinate the state’s efforts on increasing adoption of both broadband and electronic health records.
We have seen much attention paid to the adoption of electronic health records (EHR). Paying for EHR is notable as one aspect of healthcare reform that already has won funding thanks to billions set aside in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Some stimulus makes sense given the low adoption of EHRs by providers nationwide and the inefficiencies of a paper-based system.
But one aspect of EHR adoption has been largely overlooked. A new healthcare reform briefing paper by Rich Moyer and Paul Leonardo examines how population-level analysis is key to unlocking the potential of electronic health records. Community data pooling allows analysis that makes healthcare quality more apparent and can help measure and improve the system on a regional basis. These information exchanges are currently operational in at least five states and are already yielding results (while hopefully preventing the formation of new information silos in the move toward EHR).