On Oct. 16, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick sent a record between an Eastern Massachusetts hospital and a Western Massachusetts hospital, officially opening up the Statewide Healthcare Information Exchange (HIE), called the MassHIway. Now the state is working aggressively toward phase two.

Phase one began with implementing “push” transactions, because they are easy from both a policy and technology perspective, wrote Dr. John D. Halamka, CIO of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, CIO and dean for technology at Harvard Medical School and Chairman of the New England Health Electronic Data Interchange Network, in a recent blog post.

The next step, he wrote, will be “pull” transactions, and “rather than declare that the standards are not ready, the informatics challenges are too great, and the consent models are too complex, we're just moving forward with an aggressive timeline to get it done in 12-18 months."

According to a recent slideshow presented by the state's Executive Office of Health and Human Services that presents the phase two plans, a detailed sustainability model and tiered pricing were developed to subsidize small practices, which have limited resources and bandwidth for new projects.

The HHS slideshow also notes that comprehensive HIE services would cost a solo practitioner just $5 each month.

As work progresses and the HIE program in Massachusetts develops, Halamka will share the lessons his team learned and information about the technology they use. “It's a great time for HIE in Massachusetts," he wrote, "and I hope we can be a catalyst for wider push and pull HIE adoption in the country."

Read Halamka's full blog post on MedCity News.

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.com