Hoosiers receive $9.3 million from AHRQ to implement healthcare IT

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From the $139 million in grants and contracts awarded by HHS's Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), Indiana has received $9.3 million, the second highest overall grant, to promote the use of health information technology (HIT) to provide better quality and more affordable healthcare for Americans.

Three of the four projects funded in Indiana will help develop and expand a statewide network that is secure, ensures privacy of health information and makes an individual's health information more available to healthcare providers. Indiana, in addition to Colorado, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Utah, have all received grants to be used in this nature.

The Indiana Health Information Exchange (IHIE) will play a key part in the development and implementation of these projects. IHIE is among the first start-up enterprises formed through BioCrossroads, Indiana's life sciences initiative, in collaboration with regional hospitals, the Regenstrief Institute, and other prominent state and local health organizations. IHIE will "wire" healthcare - first in central Indiana but eventually in the entire state - by creating a common, secure infrastructure that will allow the sharing of clinical patient data among providers.

The first grant, totaling $5 million, will use IHIE's clinical messaging system to study the effects of clinical reminders to physicians on the quality and costs of patient's care.

The second project, which totals $1.5 million, will determine whether extensive electronic sharing of clinical information will improve patient's care. About 10 percent of central Indiana primary-care physicians and specialists will participate in the project.

The third project that involves IHIE was submitted by the Morgan Hospital and Medical Center. Part of their $1.5 million grant will be to become one of the first community hospitals outside Indianapolis to collaborate with IHIE. They will use the clinical messaging system to improve information sharing and examine its effect on healthcare costs and treatment quality between physicians and specialists in two distinct communities.

Another example of Indiana's use of HIT at the national level is Indiana University's major role in the HIT Resource Center. IU's resources will be a critical component of an estimated $18 million project that will provide technical assistance, provide a focus for collaboration, serve as a repository for best practices, and disseminate needed tools to help providers explore the adoption and use of health information technology to improve patient safety and quality of care.

For more information about IHIE, visit the organization's Web site at www.ihie.com.