While Waiting for a State Health-Records Exchange, Medical Society Launches One

Julia Werth | The CT Mirror | August 18, 2017

Electronic medical records have become common, but the ability to share them easily between providers still lags. Frustrated that after 10 years of effort the state of Connecticut has yet to launch a functioning health information exchange (HIE) allowing physicians, hospitals and other health care providers to share patient medical records, the Connecticut Medical Society is offering one of its own. Available to all clinicians in the state and called CTHealthLink, it is based on a system currently used in Kansas.

Part of the motivation was the threat that clinicians would miss out on Medicare and Medicaid incentives given for participating in a health information exchange and would instead be subject to penalties, said Matthew Katz, executive vice president and chief executive officer of the Connecticut State Medical Society (CSMS). “The Connecticut medical society decided to go ahead and try to do it because our members are missing out on the opportunity for financial benefits,” and many have to pay penalties for not participating, Katz said.

For the 2017-18 federal fiscal year, only 800 of the eligible medical professionals and none of the eligible hospitals are expected to receive Medicaid incentive payments, according to planning documents for the state health information exchange. In 2007, Connecticut first attempted to create a health information exchange (HIE) specifically for Medicaid with a $5 million grant, before most physicians had switched to electronic health records. It was cutting edge, but the state’s medical professionals weren’t ready for it, said Dr. Thomas Agresta, a professor and director of medical informatics in family medicine at UConn Health, who has been involved in HIE efforts since the beginning...