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WHIE receives state eHealth Initiative contract

Madison, Wis. - The Wisconsin Health Information Exchange has been awarded an eHealth initiative contract worth $110,000 from the State of Wisconsin for calendar year 2006.

The funds will allow WHIE, created in 2005 as a not-for-profit 501c3 entity, to develop its governance structure and administrative staff. To monitor the beginnings of potentially significant community health events through sharp increases in emergency room traffic, the contract also will enable WHIE to develop a plan for a pilot regional patient encounter index linked to a state surveillance system.

With this index, public health agencies can monitor the index, inquire about sudden upticks in emergency room visits, and respond more quickly if a large-scale health crisis is underway.

Wisconsin is committed to developing a statewide health information network to improve clinical quality and patient safety. The State Department of Health and Family Services, which is leading Governor Doyle's eHealth Care Quality and Patient Safety initiative, has determined that one of the ways to begin the development of electronic health records (EHRs) and exchange of information is through the development of Regional Health Information Organizations such as WHIE.

WHIE's stated mission is to improve the quality and accessibility of healthcare. Dr. Ed Barthell, a co-founder of WHIE, said the organization's initial pilot projects will be aimed at providing emergency clinicians with software tools that lead to improved quality and efficiency of emergency care provided to Medicaid patients.
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Other projects identified by WHIE include the creation of a regional medication reconciliation system that serves all patients, and the implementation of an electronic results routing and messaging system to improve efficiencies in multiple outpatient clinics. According to the organization, these latter projects will not be undertaken until more funding is obtained.

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