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Nov. 12, 2013
TOPEKA The two networks that comprise Kansas' digital health information exchange have agreed on terms for interconnecting, according to network officials.
"We were able to agree on a definition of treatment that significantly limited the use of KHIN’s data by LACIE or LACIE members," said Laura McCrary, chief executive of KHIN. The two networks are the Lewis And Clark Health Information Exchange (LACIE), which primarily serves providers in the Kansas City area; and the Kansas Health Information Network (KHIN), which serves most of the rest of the state.
The agreement paves the way for a unified statewide network over which doctors for the first time can exchange digital patient records. Network officials said they expect health care workers to be able to use the system sometime by the end of the year.
The networks had been at impasse for months due to disagreement over what constituted permissible use of data from the other network.
They faced an end-of-the-year deadline to connect as required by their licenses to operate in the state.
Once the networks have been fully interconnected 30 days, they will qualify for $500,000 each in federal incentive money.
There also is about $350,000 earmarked for the networks once they connect to another state's system and complete three public health connections: electronic lab reporting, syndromic surveillance and immunizations, according to officials at the Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE), which regulates health information in the state.
The funds, authorized by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, expire Feb. 14, 2014.
In April, $4.5 million in ARRA funds were paid to KHIN and $1.3 million to LACIE based on how many providers had begun connecting to each network.
The funds are being distributed by the newly formed KanHIT, a bureau at KDHE which in July began regulating health information exchange upon dissolution of the former regulator, KHIE Inc.
Under the law giving regulatory authority to the state, an advisory committee must be formed.
KDHE Deputy Secretary Aaron Dunkel, who leads KanHIT, said emails will be sent this week to potential board members and to organizations that will be represented on the committee.
"We're hoping to (meet) definitely before Christmas," Dunkel said. "Basically the agenda is going to be secondary data use and a couple of items around adjusted policy language based on the transition from KHIE to KDHE."
"Secondary data use" refers to how information collected through the network can be used in aggregate once it is gathered.
"The one thing that's outstanding from the end of the (defunct KHIE) board was the discussion around secondary data use," Dunkel said.
The questions surrounding secondary data use were behind the impasse that kept KHIN and LACIE from interconnecting sooner, said Laura McCrary, KHIN’S chief executive.
"What our participants expect," McCrary told KHI News Service before the agreement was reached, "is that the data be used for purposes of treatment and if it's going to be used for anything else, we at least need to know what it's going to be used for and approve of that, since we have no secondary data use policy in our state.”
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