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About the Tennessee Office of eHealth Initiatives

Picture of a docotor holding a ipad.

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The mission of the Tennessee Office of eHealth Initiatives is to facilitate improvements in Tennessee's healthcare quality, safety, transparency, efficiency, and cost effectiveness through statewide adoption and use of electronic health records (EHRs) and health information exchange (HIE). Access to the correct healthcare information, following appropriate, secure and timely standards, by providers and patients will allow these goals to be reached.

Health Information Technology has been a major focus of the healthcare industry in the last few years and will continue to be a focus as the healthcare industry strives to automate medical records, improve electronic reporting, simplify daily workflows and increase cost savings by streamlining work effort.

In 2009, an economic stimulus package known as The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) was signed into law.  Funding was initially allocated by the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for programs to promote health information exchange (HIE), the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs), and health information technology (HIT) workforce development.

Included in the ARRA legislation is the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act, also known as HITECH.  Funding for HITECH is allocated from ARRA to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to provide funding to hospitals and physicians who adopt electronic health records (EHRs) and demonstrate standardized criteria called Meaningful Use by utilizing EHRs in a productive way for healthcare services.

Originally founded in 2004, the Tennessee Office of eHealth Initiatives (OeHI) oversees health information technology (HIT) standards, implementation strategies toward improved electronic capture, use and exchange of healthcare information, and impact assessment.

ARRA presented Tennessee with an opportunity to advance the secure exchange of health information with these stimulus funds being made available for grants, loans, and incentives to expand the adoption and Meaningful Use of EHRs and HIE.

This Web site is an informational resource for Tennessee hospitals, healthcare providers, and Tennessee citizens, seeking to understand the strategies for HIE in Tennessee.  The website also provides links to those resources that increase awareness of the strategies and benefits of electronic HIT, the EHR Incentive Program, and HIE initiatives.


STRATEGY

The State of Tennessee's Office of eHealth is currently focusing on a two-channel approach for secure health information exchange between providers.

First, the state is dedicated to the development of both public and private regional health information exchanges (HIEs) across the state which provide for the active querying of a patient's medical history from a variety of providers. These robust HIEs allow healthcare providers with the appropriate security access to inquire into a patient's medical records, gaining access to a full spectrum of that patient's care. This evolving technology will allow - for the first time - for providers to get a total picture of a patient's medical history and current treatment by their entire care team. Additionally, it will allow for advanced population health studies which will improve the overall quality of care in the state. Ultimately, the State will assist in enabling connections between these public and private exchanges to enable statewide query ability, as well as, connections to federal health care sources such as Veterans Affairs, Department of Defense, CDC, CMS, SSA and more.

The second focus of the state is enabling the development of a secure, healthcare-specific messaging system that allows providers to send both messages and electronic documents to each other on an ad hoc basis whenever there is a need for such communications. This technology, called DIRECT, provides a more secure exchange mechanism for health information. It can also make it possible to reduce of the vast amount of faxing that currently takes place in the healthcare community.

The state is investing both federal and state grants, as well as, a great deal of time and effort into these initiatives. We are working closely with local healthcare leaders to ultimately provide this improved healthcare information highway to both providers and patients across the state.

VISION

Our vision is for a healthier Tennessee through the creation, use and exchange of electronic health information to improve patient-centered healthcare and population health. This initiative will produce a public good that will:

  • Improve quality of health care
  • Assure patient safety
  • Increase efficiency in health care delivery
  • Promote and protect the health of Tennesseans