A Medical Device Daily

Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan (BCBSM) and the Partnership for Michigan’s Health (both Lansing, Michigan) are undertaking a collaborative effort to conduct a comprehensive statewide inventory of medical information technology (IT) – both current and planned – within the state’s health provider community.

BCBSM will lead and finance the study, with the cooperation of the three health provider associations – the Michigan State Medical Society, Michigan Osteopathic Association and the Michigan Health & Hospital Association (MHA) – that comprise the Partnership for Michigan’s Health.

Among the IT investments the state inventory study will catalog are electronic medical record databases, hospital and physician web portals, compatibility and connectivity of business systems, and e-prescribing capabilities.

Daniel Loepp, CEO-designate and chief of staff for BCBSM, said, “There is significant financial and intellectual investment under way in Michigan to improve the IT capabilities of hospitals, health systems and physician practices – but these efforts are predominantly independent.”

He said that “savings can be realized, and the quality of health services improved, if we know where the potential for cooperation among health providers and payers exists, so we can work together.”

Michigan State Medical Society Executive Director Kevin Kelly said, “If physicians across Michigan can share IT applications, the benefits to the patient are clear – more precise and accurate diagnoses, more effective treatment and faster coordination of health benefit information.”

From the hospital perspective, Spencer Johnson, president of the MHA, said: “Michigan hospitals and health systems are investing millions of dollars in IT improvements, both current and planned. Moving toward common IT platforms has the potential to save millions of dollars through administrative cost reduction and by preventing redundancies in the IT infrastructure.” That, he added, “improves the efficiency and quality of health services and saves money for patients, hospitals, physicians, insurers, the state and the business community.”

Dennis Paradis, executive director of the Michigan Osteopathic Association, said, “Long-term, it will cost significantly more for everyone to invest individually in IT systems that don’t interrelate. By establishing a baseline understanding of Michigan’s IT health infrastructure, we can identify some common directions to go in the future and get to a point where we are all working with complementary technology.”

The joint study will build upon a similar study done by CyberMichigan (Ann Arbor). CyberMichigan, whose board of directors includes representatives from state government, BCBSM, higher education institutions and private industry, outlined a Michigan Health Information Network vision in January that identified many current health-related IT initiatives throughout the state.

“CyberMichigan is contributing significantly to our understanding of the many health IT initiatives, applications and system-wide infrastructure investments under way in the state today,” said William Smith, senior vice president and chief information officer for BCBSM and a member of the CyberMichigan board of directors. “We want to take their work and use it as a head start toward completing a comprehensive, detailed inventory this year that reflects the expertise and contributions of the state’s health provider organizations and the Michigan ‘Blues.’”