Part 15: Three Numbers You’ll Need to Know

By Laura Kolkman, RN, MS, FHIMSS, and Bob Brown

In this series of monthly articles – based in part on their award winning book – the authors discuss current HIE-related events and leading practices within the context of forming an HIE organization in your state, region or community.  This is Part 15 of the series.  You can access previous HIE Formation installments at the HIELights e-newsletter archives.


There are three important numbers you need to know and the sooner you know them – and use them – the easier your journey to form an HIE will be.  The numbers in question are phone numbers and they’ll help you reach out to and connect with:


  • the organization that is your Stare Designated Entity (SDE)
  • the individual that is your State HIT Coordinator, and
  • the organization that is the Regional Extension Center (REC) for your anticipated service area.


Why would you want to reach out to these folks?  They can make your (HIE) life easier.


Each of these individuals and organizations can be involved in your success and the success of your HIE – whether it is a public or private HIE or one associated with an Accountable care organization (ACO)


In order to receive federal funds to support health information exchange, each state governor had to designate an organizational entity within the state to receive and manage the funds distributed as part of the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program.  That organization – some are state agencies, some are public-private initiatives – has been actively involved in HIE planning and can provide you with a wealth of information on the current status of HIE in your state or territory.


Along with the requirement to designate a specific entity, state and territory governors have also named a state HIT coordinator.  Often, but not always, that person is associated with the SDE.  The following link will direct you to a listing of key contacts (usually the HIT Coordinator) for the State Health Information Exchange Cooperative Agreement Program: http://statehieresources.org/contacts/


The table on the site is arranged in alphabetical order by state and lists the most currently available information.


Since – based on our experience with numerous HIE formation efforts – it’s essential that you quickly establish communications with physicians, you’ll want to identify and reach out to the REC serving your area.  They focus on primary care providers and will likely have established communications with many of these providers since they are charged with offering technical assistance in implementing electronic medical record (EMR) applications that create and manage electronic health records (EHRs).


The REC should be able to give you an overview of EMR adoption in your area and provide you with contact information for physicians.  They will know the early adopters and champions in your anticipated service area.  And, since they are not HIE competitors but allies, they have the potential to be active supporters of your efforts to further HIE in your area.


For a listing of RECs in your state, access the website maintained by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for Health Information Technology at: http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt/community/healthit_hhs_gov__listing_of_regional_extension_centers/3519.  Because some states are served by more than one REC, you may need to investigate to see which one(s) cover your anticipated service area.


As we’ve previously mentioned in this column and in our book, forming an HIE can be likened to a journey.  Communicating and coordinating with your SDE, state or territory HIT coordinator and REC are essential activities and are critical to your organization’s success.


Laura Kolkman, RN, MS, FHIMSS is the President of Mosaica Partners and Bob Brown is the VP of Professional Services. Their book—The Health Information Exchange Formation Guide—was published by HIMSS in February 2011, and was recently named the HIMSS Book of the Year. View the HIMSS’ companion web site to read chapter summaries and download select tables, figures, illustrations and checklists. The book is available in print and eBook editions.