Expanding health information exchange (HIE) services to West Texas counties continues to be an integral piece of the Texas Health Services Authority’s (THSA) master plan to advance HIE throughout the state. Realization of that goal may be one step closer following the release by Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA) of the West Texas Health Information Exchange Business and Operational Plan.
The plan was developed following THSA’ selection of HASA to craft a business and operational plan for HIE interoperability for the western part of the state. HASA’s selection followed their response to the THSA’s West Texas HIE Planning Grant Request for Applications released in January of 2015.
HASA’s approach in developing the plan was driven by its recognition that the West Texas region is comprised of six distinct health care delivery hubs with varying market dynamics and different levels of HIE maturity: Lubbock, Amarillo, Abilene, San Angelo, Wichita Falls and Midland/Odessa. With the Midland/Odessa region currently being served by the Paso del Norte HIE, HASA focused its market assessment and eventual plan development on the five remaining hubs.
In formulating the market assessment for West Texas, HASA utilized an online survey and a series of focus groups that highlighted use cases deployed in HASA’s existing service area. Those use cases included a provider portal, real-time reporting, ED and discharge alerts, referrals and DIRECT messaging, a patient portal, and end-to-end care. Among the six use cases presented, the provider portal consistently ranked highest in interest among potential users and their willingness to pay for the service. Except for existing regional HIE efforts, stakeholders expressed a preference for connecting to existing and proven services instead of establishing a separate organizational structure and technology.
Using the hub model as its foundation, HASA developed a business and operational plan for the West Texas region that will utilize a three-year phased implementation with select hubs to establish critical mass and provide examples of success. The plan’s phased implementation will be based on perceived readiness and interest in a hub region.
While some skepticism around support and value remains, West Texas appears to be more receptive to HIE deployment than in previous years. Given the increasing interest in HIE within the region and the progress already achieved by HASA’s development of its West Texas business and operational plan, momentum appears to be growing for expanded access to robust HIE services for the western part of the state.