In the rural areas of Texas, some counties are not currently served by a local or private health information exchange (HIE). To solve this challenge, under the State HIE Cooperative Agreement Program, the Texas Health Services Authority (THSA) established a marketplace of qualified Health Information Service Providers (HISPs). These HISPs are designed to provide physicians and hospitals in rural Texas the ability to electronically exchange health information with other clinicians in a way that is simple, secure, cost effective, and compliant with federal and state requirements, including HIPAA and electronic health record (EHR) meaningful use.

When the State HIE Cooperative Agreement program came to an end in March 2014, the West Texas HIE White Space Advisory Board re-evaluated how they could electronically exchange health-related information within their region, across the state and the rest of the nation. Then, in July 2014, the THSA issued a request for applications (RFA) to expand access to HIE services in the West Texas by establishing a funding opportunity to support planning for extending HIE in West Texas counties not currently served by a local HIE. This RFA was reissued in January 2015.

This month, the THSA executed a contract with Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA) to conduct a West Texas HIE readiness assessment and develop a business and operational plan to expand access to robust HIE services in West Texas counties. HASA is a 501(c)(3) community collaborative initiative designed to enhance access to health and medical care through HIE. Supported by major providers in the Central Texas community, HASA adds to the medical safety net by offering an electronic shared patient record in a safe and secure environment. With this level of connectivity across provider entities, care can be delivered more effectively and conveniently.

THSA is excited at the prospect of working with HASA and West Texas providers to expand HIE capabilities into areas of Texas with low adoption rates of HIE and health information technology services. Expanding HIE into these counties will better ensure that the right information is available to the right health care providers at the right times statewide.

For more information on activities to expand HIE in rural Texas, visit http://hietexas.org/how-to-connect/rural-texas-options

THSA Partners with Healthcare Access San Antonio to Provide HIE Services in West Texas