Governor Patrick Launches Next Phase of Health Exchange

The new program aims to reduce costs and save lives.

Governor Deval Patrick launched the next phase of the Mass “HIway” Health Information Exchange on Wednesday which uses new technology that will allow providers to locate, request, and retrieve medical records from other participating healthcare providers across the Commonwealth on a secure, interconnected system.

“This technology is a win for all of us – it will help us reduce health costs, improve patient care and save lives,” Patrick said in a press release. “Accurate health information is the fuel of our health care system, and these innovations will allow providers to treat patients with greater accuracy and speed.”

Massachusetts was the first state in the nation to receive federal funding through the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services to develop the Health Information Exchange. The initiative aims to improve health care quality and outcomes for residents of the Commonwealth.

To launch the new service, Patrick joined medical professionals and emergency department clinicians at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) to simulate an encounter where a patient was unresponsive. By using the Mass HIway, doctors discovered the patient had medical records at Atrius Health, Holyoke Medical Center, and Tufts Medical Center. Doctors used the Mass HIway to request and retrieve these records, which provided a comprehensive medical history on the patient. This helped to avoid drug-to-drug and allergic reactions, duplicative testing, and delayed diagnosis, so that the patient was treated with greater speed and safety.

According to the press release:

The new technology will help health care providers measure and report clinical quality measures, which can be used by MassHealth and private insurers as part of implementing new bundled payment approaches to compensating healthcare providers. The Mass HIway has also been extended to enable clinicians to electronically submit required information to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health directly from their electronic health record systems. Required submissions include immunization information, cancer case information, and other information required to further the goals of monitoring and improving public health.

“The new Mass HIway technology enables providers to more quickly diagnose patient conditions,” said Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) John Polanowicz in a press release. “It will allow providers to better prevent medical errors such as drug-to-drug or allergic reactions; and will help discontinue fax and paper-based records that take precious time and cost millions of dollars.”