KHI News Service

Kansas City regional HIE to dissolve

Officials say need no longer exists for cross-border information exchange entity

By KHI NEWS SERVICE | September 07, 2011


Letter from eHealthAlign board chair

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The Kansas City regional health information exchange, eHealthAlign, will be dissolved, according to a letter released Tuesday from Dr. Laura Fitzmaurice, chair of the exchange's board of directors.

"In recent months, the environment under which eHealthAlign was formed has changed considerably," Fitzmaurice wrote. "Other state and regional exchanges have been established or are being planned that will provide sufficient technology services to the Kansas City market. These changes have caused eHealthAlign to reassess its purpose, structure and business model."

eHealthAlign was initially envisioned to be a regional health exchange that would address the needs of health care providers unique to the Kansas City area on both sides of the state line with the ultimate goal of helping providers connect to statewide exchanges in either Kansas, Missouri or both.

But Jim Brophy, chief executive officer of eHealthAlign, said the organization would disband by about the end of September.

"We're taking a number of steps to dissolve," Brophy said. "We're working with our attorneys and our accountants."

Some 30 organizations, health plans, physicians, safety net clinics, hospitals and experts were involved with eHealthAlign.

How they move forward will depend on the needs of health providers connecting to statewide exchanges, said Scott Lakin, director of the Mid America Regional Council (MARC) one of the partner groups.

Lakin said there was no longer a need to get providers connected through eHealthAlign, thanks to statewide information exchanges being developed in Kansas and Missouri. In Kansas, efforts are overseen by the Kansas Health Information Exchange, Inc. The Missouri counterpart is Missouri Health Connection.

"But just because eHealthAlign is going away doesn't mean that some of the issues are going away," Lakin said.

For example, he said he would be talking to safety clinics to see what their needs are absent eHealthAlign.

"If we (MARC) can provide some service there we'll be happy to do so," he said. "Otherwise, if they're taken care of, we don't need to insert ourselves. We just want to make sure that as eHealthAlign goes away, there aren't gaps there that go unmet. We want the transition to be as smooth as possible."

He said his group would be putting together a report for consideration at the next, and potentially last, eHealthAlign board meeting. That gathering is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 23, but a time and place have not been set.

Meanwhile, Kansas Health Information Exchange, Inc. officials announced today that the group's next board meeting would be held Tuesday, Sept. 20. Board members will interview two candidates for chief executive officer that morning.

The meeting — which is open to the public — will begin at 11:30 a.m. at the Kansas Medical Society (map).