Vermont officials work to improve HIE after audit: 4 things to know

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Vermont officials are working to improve the state's health information exchange after a comprehensive review found many providers had "lost confidence" in the system, VTDigger reports.

Vermont Information Technology Leaders, a Burlington, Vt.-based nonprofit organization, operates the state's HIE, which collects patients' lab results, discharge summaries, radiology reports and medication histories. The HIE contains 19 percent of the state's patient records and operates as an "opt-in" system, meaning patients must provide consent for their records to be included.

Here are four things to know about the state's troubled HIE.

1. A 2017 review determined providers lacked confidence in Vermont's HIE, however, the system has reportedly been plagued by administrative and financial issues for several years. A 2016 audit found problems associated with oversight and performance, and VITL administrators acknowledged difficulty making payroll.

2. To address these issues, VITL administrators are working with the Department of Vermont Health Access to build up the HIE and ensure its sustainability through initiatives such as having the department move from a grant to a deliverables-based contract with VITL. The organizations also worked with the Burlington-based University of Vermont Medical Center to improve the HIE's login and patient consent procedures.

3. Department of Vermont Health Access officials have proposed setting a work plan by May. Meeting goals laid out in the work plan would become a requirement for the VITL to continue work and funding on the HIE.

4. The department is in the process of establishing a contingency plan if the work plan's goals aren't met. The contingency plan would include a feasibility and impact assessment, and may consider moving patient records to a new operator.

"We will be transparent and we will try our best," said Michael Costa, deputy commissioner at the Department of Vermont Health Access. "It's not clear yet whether we're going to be successful."

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