PA considers building a health data highway

    Governor Rendell’s Office of Health Care Reform is pitching a plan to build an electronic superhighway to exchange health information across Pennsylvania.

    Governor Rendell’s Office of Health Care Reform is pitching a plan to build an electronic superhighway to exchange health information across Pennsylvania.

    Listen:

    [audio:091223teexchange.mp3]

    The federal government has set up a system of financial incentives to push doctors and hospitals to adopt electronic health records. But qualifying for that money depends, in part, on how well health care providers can share health data.

    To finance the health information exchange, the Rendell administration wants to charge insurance companies a small fee for each medical claim they pay to doctors and hospitals. Phil Magistro is the health IT manager for Pennsylvania.

    Magistro: Medical claims are a bill when a service is performed. So if you go to a physician’s office he submits a medical claim for “x” number of dollars and a fraction of a percent of that, we’re asking, would be directed to the health information exchange activities.

    Pennsylvania is eligible for $17 million in federal money to help launch the superhighway, but state officials say the project could cost as much as $100 million.

    Delaware was the first state to build a statewide health information exchange. Now, Pennsylvania wants to piggyback on Delaware’s system, but the head of a state trade group says the proposal to launch Pennsylvania’s system needs work.

    Kelly Lewis is president of TechQuest Pennsylvania.

    Lewis: Delaware is smaller than many counties in Pennsylvania. Delaware is very homogenous in terms of health care systems. Pennsylvania is very complex and we are concerned that the strategic plan doesn’t address those complexities, let alone trying to tie Pittsburgh and Philadelphia together.

    Lewis says he’s worried that the plan may also sidestep the process that helps minority- and women-owned businesses win contracts from the state.

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