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Sept. 12, 2012
TOPEKA The board responsible for overseeing the digital exchange of Kansans' health records today unanimously approved transferring its duties to a state agency within a year, provided the Legislature acts to make the transfer legal.
If the Legislature amends the law, as is now expected, the functions of the Kansas Health Information Exchange would be transferred to the Kansas Department of Health and Environment by October 2013. Under the transition plan drafted by KDHE, the 17-member KHIE board currently appointed by the governor would become an advisory committee appointed by the KDHE secretary.
The goal of transferring the authority to KDHE is to reduce costs. Operating the board was expected to cost about $400,000 a year as an independent entity versus about $54,000 a year if the board's regulatory functions are assumed by the state.
The decision came at the same time that health information exchange is beginning in Kansas.
"This is a way to get the state to have some skin in the game. Right now the only people who have skin in the game are (medical) providers," said board member Jerry Slaughter, who also is executive director of the Kansas Medical Society.
Leading up to the decision, some board members and others had expressed concern that a state agency wouldn't represent the interests of patients or health care providers as well as an independent board would do so.
Chair Dr. Joe Davison raised that concern with a question to KDHE's representative to the board, Aaron Dunkel:
"Short of your first-born child, can you give any assurances that the stakeholder group can have their say in this new advisory committee?" Davison asked.
"I think there's an opportunity to sit down and write up what the rules of engagement will be, a bylaws for the advisory committee," Dunkel said.
Two hours of comments preceded the vote, including some from among the dozen members in the audience.
"I am hard pressed to believe that KDHE — with its innumerable responsibilities and its focus on so many different aspects of public policy — can truly devote the effort and represent the provider community and (patients) in a way this organization can," said Martie Ross, a consultant who has worked for KHIE's legal contractors, Spencer Fane Britt & Browne.
"Don't think about just today," Ross said. "The future is the ability to take this data and really start improving the science of medicine and identifying the most effective interventions. That data is enormously valuable...You've got to see what lies ahead. It's all opportunity out there, and to flush that away (to save) what staffing costs I think is short-sighted."
KHIE was formed in 2010 to ensure the security and privacy of patient health records as they are transferred via privately owned networks. It was set up as a quasi-public entity with board members appointed to represent the interests of patients, health care providers, employers and insurers in an open process intended to be independent of political influence.
Five board members voted on the proposal today:
• Davison, who represents West Wichita Family Physicians,
• Michael Atwood, who represents Blue Cross Blue Shield of Kansas,
• Jackie John, who represents the Great Plains Health Alliance,
• Jonalan Smith, who represents pharmacists and Genoa Healthcare, and
• Karen Braman, who represents pharmacists and Express Scripts.
Two non-voting board members also were present and Slaughter recused himself citing conflict of interest as he is the chair of the Kansas Health Information Network, one of the networks KHIE regulates. Eight of the 17 board seats are vacant, including those that represent patients as well as one resigned today by Janet Stanek who represented Stormont-Vail hospital.
→ Kansas breaks ground on statewide digital health network (5/28/12)
→ The pros and cons of health information exchange: An interview with Dr. Joe Davison (5/28/12)
→ Network execs squabble over issue of exchange connectivity (5/23/13)
→ KU Hospital, Shawnee Mission going live on statewide health record exchange (5/9/13)
→ Governor signs HIE bill transferring regulatory authority from KHIE to KDHE (4/18/13)
→ National experts weigh in on electronic health records (3/19/13)
→ Senate panel hears bill to move HIE regulatory authority to KDHE (3/13/13)
→ Bill introduced to transfer regulatory authority from KHIE to KDHE (2/12/13)
→ Legislators request 'lengthy discussion' on HIE developments (1/16/13)
→ KHIE board members get cold feet on legal changes (12/13/12)
→ KHIE defers details of transition to KDHE (10/10/12)
→ KHIE board turns over regulatory duties to state (9/12/12)
→ HIE board delays decision on turning authority, costs over to state (8/8/12)
→ Regulators of health information exchange to consider ceding authority to state (8/6/12)
→ The cost of independent regulation of health information exchange (8/6/12)
→ KHIE board presented with proposal to dissolve the organization by August (7/11/12)
→ Far fewer than projected patients opting out of health information exchange (6/14/12)
→ Public awareness campaign begins for health information network (5/23/12)
→ Networks granted temporary licenses to exchange patient data (4/11/12)
→ KHIE committee changes course on funding scheme (3/26/12)
→ Rural Kansas doc featured as national technology leader (8/17/11)
→ State Medicaid officials announce new schedule for digital health records exchange (7/25/11)
→ Kansas health care providers get first look at exchange implementation (2/4/11)
→ Full coverage of health information technology in Kansas
The KHI News Service is an editorially independent initiative of the Kansas Health Institute and is committed to timely, objective and in-depth coverage of health issues and the policy making environment. Find more about the News Service at khi.org/newsservice or contact us at (785) 783-2529.