New report describes effective strategy to enhance interstate collaboration in health information exchange

RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C. — A new report by RTI International describes effective strategies to enhance the exchange of electronic health information among states.

The report discusses how the State Health Policy Consortium (SHPC) successfully completed demonstration and pilot projects designed to overcome barriers to health information exchange. Evidence of the value of the SHPC project and methodology is provided in a newly released video which reviews the accomplishment of a selected number of consortium projects. 

“The State Health Policy Consortium methodology offers an effective strategy for encouraging multistate and regional solutions to complex problems,” said Stephanie Rizk, health IT research analyst at RTI and co-author of the report. “This methodology allows rapid identification, funding, and startup of projects to address new challenges and take advantage of opportunities as they emerge.”

The SHPC project supported nine consortium projects over four years. Participants included 30 states and territories and 45 subcontractors and consultants.  The project was funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).  Specific details about one of the projects, the Personal Health Record (PHR) Ignite project, can be found at the ONC site. Full details regarding each of the consortium projects can be found in a companion report describing all project outcomes. 

The report highlights methods used for project identification, management and implementation. To identify projects for the consortium, RTI developed and issued a request for project proposals in partnership with ONC. Proposed projects had to include representation from at least three states and focus on developing solutions to barriers preventing health information exchange across states.

Each project was led by a consortium project manager who developed a work plan to ensure accountability and establish tasks to reach project goals. Project managers worked with project participants and ONC to refine strategies, review progress, identify and troubleshoot potential issues and ensure that projects remained focused on advancing interoperability.

“The consortia were encouraged to push toward conflict,” Rizk said. “Discovering previously unknown barriers to exchange creates new opportunities to develop solutions. We embraced conflicts rather than viewing them as inconvenient setbacks.”

Robert Bailey, SHPC Project Director, underscored the importance of continuing support for similar efforts in the future. “The methods described in the report provided the flexibility we needed to take advantage of new opportunities and make rapid progress for supporting health information exchange,” he said.