Wyoming Builds Health Information Exchange to Open Flow of Patient Data

Jack Murtha
MARCH 21, 2018
wyfi,wyoming hie,medicity hie,hca news

It’s nicknamed WYFI, but Wyoming Frontier Information aims to do much more than connect people to the internet for casual browsing. Rather, the up-and-coming health information exchange (HIE) is designed to connect clinicians and healthcare organizations to their patients’ data, a push toward connectivity that the architects hope will strengthen care in the state.

In December, the agency behind WYFI, the Wyoming Department of Health, struck a contract with the interoperability and data aggregation company Medicity to build out the program. Today, Medicity announced new details of the formation of the medical community-owned HIE—and exactly how it plans to tackle the same data challenges that have plagued healthcare at large.

“By forming the statewide HIE and utilizing Medicity’s solutions, we can build a community of health that will securely place comprehensive, usable data into the hands of our healthcare providers,” James Bush, MD, Wyoming’s Medicaid medical director, said in a statement. “Furthermore, we look forward to our partnership with Medicity to bring easier interstate connections and unlock the potential for greater information sharing.”

Medicity has one advantage that could indeed pave the way for links to nearby states. It has connections with healthcare infrastructure in South Dakota and Colorado, arrangements that have made Wyoming officials optimistic about forming something that looks like a multistate HIE, according to the announcement. That would help members of the exchange to “obtain a patient’s complete picture, both inside and outside of the state,” Medicity noted.

But in Wyoming, Medicity plans to use its Connect, Exchange, Explore, and Community Interchange tools. The suite is geared toward improving population health campaigns, integrating clinical information, societal data, and more, according to the company. Healthcare organizations will gain access to a “single, de-duplicated, comprehensive Continuity of Care Document” to foster electronic patient data sharing, Medicity noted.

The technologies are slated to help WYFI become a “centralized repository of clinical data of participating patients,” driven through providers’ electronic health records (EHRs) systems and web browsers. Healthcare organizations may download clinical data from the encrypted exchange, and data access will be “logged and audited,” according to the program.

Wyoming providers won’t need to pay to join the HIE through the end of 2021. The state’s health department and CMS have funded its construction. Planning began 2 years ago, and health orgs are expected to “soon be able to access” patient records stemming from labs, emergency departments, practices, and more.

“We look forward to building a platform that brings easy access to all the clinical data and insights providers need to coordinate the best care for the patients they service,” Patrice R. Wolfe, Medicity’s CEO, said in a statement.

Of course, Wyoming is far from the only state to pursue a sweeping HIE. Dozens, if not hundreds, already exist in many regions. Some, like California, host dozens of HIEs within their own borders. Although similar information exchanges existed prior to the widespread adoption of EHRs and even the internet, more and more HIEs have come into existence over the past decade or so.

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