- Policy & Research
- About KHI
March 14, 2012
TOPEKA Kansas could have a digital health information exchange in place by July, if a tentative timeline discussed by officials today is met.
The timeline draft was distributed to members of the Kansas Health Information Exchange Inc. board by chief executive Bill Wallace.
"You may ask, why did we pick July," Wallace said. "If we don't go live before fourth quarter or late third quarter, we will be essentially exacerbating the sustainability issues that LACIE and KHIN have," he said, referring to the two networks expected to operate in the state.
Need to move
Laura McCrary, chief executive of the Kansas Health Information Network (KHIN), told KHI News Service that her network won't charge health care providers for its services until the exchange is operational.
"The longer they delay our ability to go live, the longer we have to wait to receive any revenue. It's pretty straightforward," she said. "We have to get moving if we're going to have sustainable exchanges. I don't blame a hospital for saying they're not going to pay until this thing is really real. It's been not really real for a long time — the velveteen rabbit has yet to turn into a real rabbit."
KHIE is the quasi-public entity responsible for overseeing digital health information exchange in the state. It will certify the private networks that handle the transfer of electronic health records. Health care providers who exchange patient information via a KHIE-approved network would be granted some immunity from lawsuits should they inadvertently breach patient privacy while doing so.
Two networks have applied for KHIE approval: KHIN and Missouri-based LACIE.
Still to do
Before launching the exchange, KHIE plans to:
• Distribute privacy notices to patients at least 30 days before the information exchanges begin. The notices, required by state law, will advise patients of their right to opt out of the exchange and indicate how they can do so.
• The law also requires KHIE establish a website and support desk to accept and process opt-out forms from patients.
• Formulate and disseminate procedures for health care providers to follow when advising patients about the health information exchange and their privacy rights.
• Start a public awareness communication campaign.
"If we do adopt the (July) goal, the tradeoff is we're going to have a less-than-immaculate communication plan," Wallace said. "Obviously, we're not going to have public service announcements in English and Spanish created in time for them to be made available throughout the state."
KHIE board member Jackie John, a representative of the Great Plains Health Alliance, said it was important that providers understand what can be expected from the exchange.
"A lot of players out there think (the exchange is) a plug-and-play kind of thing. They don't understand all the processes that need to come together to make this a reality," she said. "We need to start with our providers, hospitals and physicians. They're the ones that are going to be targeted to explain (health information exchange) to consumers."
Melissa Hungerford of the Kansas Hospital Association said the questions were already coming.
"We are beginning to hear 'What's going on, what should we be doing, what's the timeline?' Those kind of questions. So we'd just like to be able to let them know," she said.
Board members said they hoped to have answers ready for the hospital association to disseminate at its April convention and at the Kansas Medical Society's May convention.
Wallace said KHIE staff, committees and stakeholders would spend the next month mapping the timeline. He suggested revising and finalizing it at the board's April 11 meeting ahead of the KHA convention.
"At that point, we'll have a tough time unsaying something after Melissa goes to the meetings and lets the word out," he said.