A Medical Device Daily

Altarum Institute (Ann Arbor, Michigan) reported that in partnership with more than 40 Michigan organizations, it has been awarded a grant from the state of Michigan to lead the planning process for a Health Information Exchange (HIE) in southeast Michigan.

HIEs are at different levels of maturity across the country. For the past two years, a dedicated working group, including the "Detroit 3" automotive manufacturers, the Wayne and Oakland County Medical Societies, Greater Detroit Area Health Council, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, and the Henry Ford, Oakwood, Trinity and St. John Health Systems have engaged in exploratory discussions regarding an HIE for southeast Michigan, Altarum said.

Altarum said it was asked to serve as an objective facilitator and subject matter expert in mid-2006. The new funding from the state of Michigan, which supports multiple HIE efforts across the state, will allow this exploratory process to mature into concrete planning and development activities.

"The goal of the HIE concept is to facilitate access to, and retrieval of, clinical data to provide safer, more effective, equitable and patient-centered care," said Janet Olszewski, director of the Michigan Department of Community Health.

The HIE in southeast Michigan will advance the implementation of an integrated, interoperable health information exchange across the state, supporting the information needs of physicians, health systems and hospitals, patients, employers and insurers, according to Altarum.

A functioning HIE in southeast Michigan will benefit all stakeholders in the region, including local residents. Because better use of health information technology makes the delivery of healthcare more cost efficient, it is expected that the state's business economy will benefit as well, the institute said.

"With these grants, Michigan is taking a real step forward as a health information technology leader," said Altarum president/CEO Linc Smith. "As health systems researchers, we are always seeking ways to develop and deliver new tools that help health care providers and healthcare users make better, timelier decisions. The HIE for southeast Michigan has the potential to make that promise a reality for more than 40% of Michigan's population. It could have an enormous impact, and we are proud to have a central role."

Based on recommendations from a December 2006 Michigan Health Information Network report, the state has provided more than $4.5 million to create a statewide infrastructure for healthcare information exchange.

The initial Altarum grant for its work on the Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange that covers Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, St. Clair and Monroe counties is $658,356.

Altarum assists federal and state clients in developing IT policies, requirements, software, data standards, and cross-agency interfaces. Since 2005, Altarum also has provided ongoing policy and program management support to the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC-HHS) and the American Health Information Community (AHIC).

Altarum Institute is a nonprofit research institution working to become the nation's preeminent provider of health systems research, analysis and consulting services.

In other grants/contract news:

• St. Mary Medical Center (Langhorne, Pennsylvania) reported the addition of five new high-technology advances in early diagnoses and treatment of cancer.

In keeping pace with the needs of the community, St. Mary said it is investing more than $13.2 million in cancer-fighting technology.

"St. Mary is placing a great deal of emphasis on creating the best cancer program in the region. It is important for everyone in our community to be aware that if they or someone they love are confronted with cancer, there is solace in knowing that the highest standards of care are available right here in their community," said Greg Wozniak, president/CEO of St. Mary.

According to the National Cancer Institute , more than 80% of all cancer care now is provided at the community level, as is 60% of all clinical cancer research. This significant demand for community-based cancer-care services continues to grow, and to meet these evolving needs centers now are offering advanced, comprehensive cancer-care that historically was offered only in the largest metropolitan areas.

In its ongoing effort to make available the most advanced capabilities and technologies to patients in both the St. Mary Regional Cancer Center and the St. Mary Breast Center, St. Mary Medical Center is introducing the addition of five new significant services. Four of these are currently available and include: Wide Bore Computed Tomography (CT); High-Dose Rate (HDR) Brachytherapy; PET/ CTA; Computer-Aided Detection (CAD) RapidScreen; TomoTherapy Highly Integrated Adaptive Radiotherapy (HI-ART).