A pair of bills introduced in the Michigan Legislature in late October would create a state-designated health data utility (HDU) to combine, enhance and share electronic health data for a variety of purposes, including treatment, care coordination, quality improvement and public health.
State Representative Julie Rogers (D-Kalamazoo), Chairwoman of the House Health Policy Committee, introduced House Bill 5823, along with HB 5824 by State Representative Curt VanderWaal (R-Ludington), Vice Minority Leader. Lawmakers said the bills would go beyond health care. the information sharing model is currently operated by the Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN) Shared Services. HDU’s implementation provides an opportunity to modernize Michigan’s public health data collection and ensure near-instantaneous and secure transfer of medical records with health care providers.
A useful health data model is gaining traction in several states. As Healthcare Innovation reported in July 2023, the state of Maryland designated CRISP as the state’s health data utility. State law requires CRISP to provide real-time data to individuals and organizations involved in patient treatment and care coordination and to public health agencies. The legislation also requires the Maryland Department of Health, nursing homes, electronic health networks and prescription drug dispensers to provide data to the state-designated HIE. The story notes that similar efforts are underway in Missouri and Michigan, while California is working on its own version of the required data-sharing framework.
MiHIN CEO Tim Pletcher said Healthcare innovation that his conversations with Michigan lawmakers have changed dramatically over the past few years, and are more open to the importance of a useful health data model. “I think COVID has made some things easier,” he said. “Covid was basically the equivalent of 9/11 for social services and justice and what we do in public health. There was a lack of infrastructure, lack of coordination. People who weren’t used to working with their HIE duplicated resources and wasted a lot of time. I think the health data utility is going to be very much a model for economies of scale.”
Looking at outdated legacy systems, most state and county social services programs can’t tell you if they’re dealing with the same person, Pletcher adds. “We HIEs have been struggling with patient compliance for years, and we’re pretty good at it. Some of us have even reached agreement and other difficult issues. It will take you a decade to do this if you don’t build on this infrastructure. We want to build on these core utilities to do more and more.”
When you start looking at things like SNAP, children’s services and doing a better job of keeping people from getting sick, it’s much broader than just the social determinants of health, Pletcher said. “It is a complete cross-sectoral infrastructure. Suddenly we realize we need a utility.”
Pletcher added that transparency is a key issue as health data utilities reach stakeholders beyond traditional health system partners. “As we expand into these other interdisciplinary areas, it cannot be dominated by health plans or large hospitals. Management, particularly the operational management of things, needs to evolve. I think it will happen with more public sector funding. The trick will be to do it in a way that politics doesn’t undermine the ability to deliver.”
“Many of us have encountered a family member or been in situations where our medical team is flying in blind without a full picture of our medical history, including the medications we are taking, allergies we may have and surgical procedures in our history. “Often, medical decisions are made based on limited information that can literally have life and death consequences,” Rogers said in a statement. “These bills strengthen the existing framework already in place in Michigan under MiHIN and are a significant step forward in ensuring the seamless distribution of comprehensive health data, regardless of health care setting, so that the whole person can be assessed and treated appropriately.” in a comprehensive, personalized way.”
The bills have been referred to the House Committee on Health Care Policy.
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