May 04, 2021 – Following several fruitless attempts over the past decade and a half, Connecticut has launched its statewide health information exchange to streamline patient data exchange across the state.
After signing with 25 healthcare providers in February, the statewide HIE currently has 44 participants. Major health systems, behavioral health providers, community healthcare centers, physician’s groups, medical practices, and Connecticut’s health and human services agencies are signed onto the HIE.
State leaders aimed to have the HIE up and running during the initial COVID-19 surge, but it did not deploy in time. This frustrated state officials because the HIE could have supported providers during the first wave of the pandemic. But, the state is now turning the corner, and the HIE should enhance the state’s reopening plan.
“Today, I’m proud to announce the launch of our statewide health information exchange we call Connie, which provides the technology services to allow healthcare providers to exchange patient data safely and efficiently,” Vicki Veltri, OHS executive director, said in a statement.
“Connecticut is now officially on the path that forty-five other states have traveled, with a more effective healthcare data delivery model. Information that is accessible in real time is critical for good healthcare; Connie will help providers and patients access information to improve care and lower overall healthcare costs.”
Hospitals and laboratories will have one year from when the state officially considers the HIE operational to connect to Connie. All other healthcare providers will have two years, HIE leaders said.
Connie directors said it could take up to three years to get all providers on board.
“As a practicing physician, I am pleased to support the launch of operations for Connie,” said Allen F. Davis, MD, board member of ProHealth Physicians. “Ensuring physicians have the most up-to-date clinical information on their patients is vital to empowering physicians and their patients to make the best decisions for their health.”
State leaders found statewide HIE implementation is challenging, and as a result, each unsuccessful attempt cost the state millions of dollars.
However, the Connie governing board of directors is enthusiastic about the launch and the many benefits that connected providers will have, HIE leaders said.
“I believe Connie will transform healthcare delivery in the state for the better. Independent hospitals, and providers in particular are going to see tremendous benefits from data sharing and interoperability once connected with Connie,” said Patrick Charmel, president and CEO of Griffin Health Services.
“They’ll have the same advantages as the member hospitals and health care providers of larger health systems that have migrated providers to a shared electronic health record including greater care continuity, better informed clinical decision making and more efficient care delivery resulting from the elimination of care redundancy,” Charmel continued.
The statewide HIE aims to reduce costs and promote patient care by reducing the chances of duplicative testing. It also links providers without going through the tedious process of establishing a connection with each facility.
An HIE also offers financial benefits for the state. Medicaid and Medicare services rely on health outcomes data. Health systems can only receive payments if they can show that they improve care quality and decrease hospital readmissions.
The statewide HIE will utilize an opt-out system, which requires patients to specifically request their data not be included on the HIE. This system ensures high patient participation.
“The launch of Connie provides an incredible benefit to patients and providers in Connecticut,” concluded Jenn Searls, executive director of Connie.
“The capability to instantly share health information among providers in a confidential and secure manner means better and faster care, and fewer unneeded tests and procedures, medical mistakes, and costly medical bills in the health care system. Additionally, exchanging data through Connie creates a more accessible, timely, secure and transparent method for providers to access patient information.”