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Q: What is the Arkansas Office of Health Information Technology?

A: The Office of Health Information Technology was established to provide leadership for the development and implementation of a statewide health information exchange in Arkansas. The roles of the office are to coordinate the collaboration of health information technology planning, development, implementation, and financing; and plan the development and operation of the health information exchange, known as SHARE.

Q: What is health information technology?

A: Health Information Technology (HIT): The application of information processing involving both computer hardware and software that deals with the storage, retrieval, sharing and use of health care information, data, and knowledge for communication and decision.

Q: What is health information exchange?

A: Health Information Exchange (HIE) provides the capability to electronically move clinical information between disparate health care information systems to facilitate access to and retrieval of clinical data, thereby helping to provide safer, timely, efficient, effective, equitable patient-centered care.

Q: What is SHARE?

A: The State Health Alliance for Records Exchange (SHARE) is Arkansas’s health information exchange. SHARE will allow doctors and hospitals to share and retrieve health information.

Q: How will SHARE work?

A: When all parts of the health care system use standardized electronic health records, it will be possible for patients to ensure that their doctors, hospitals, clinics, insurers and pharmacies have the information they need at the time and place they need it to provide the best treatment possible. Today, patient information is collected and stored the same way as it was decades ago: in bulky paper files kept in one practitioner's office. The doctor sees a patient, jots down notes in a folder, fills out a form to order tests, and scribbles out a prescription on another piece of paper. Later, if the patient needs to see a specialist or get a prescription filled, numerous paper records must be retrieved, copied and sent.

Electronic health records connected through statewide health information exchange would allow a patient seeing a doctor in one part of the state to share or retrieve health information from a health care provider (e.g. hospital, lab, or surgeon) in another part of the state – instantly and accurately, to ensure timely and informed delivery of care.

Q: What is an electronic health record (EHR)?

A: Electronic Health Record (EHR): An electronic record of patient health information, including patient demographics, notes, problems, medications, vital signs, medical history, immunizations, laboratory data, and radiology reports that has the ability to generate a complete record of a clinical patient encounter. Also known as an electronic medical record or EMR.

Q: How are EHRs used?

  • Health information and data: Immediate access to key information, such as patients’ diagnoses, allergies, lab test results, and medications, improves the ability for doctors and other health care providers to make clinical decisions in a timely manner.
  • Results management: The ability for all doctors and other providers participating in the care of a patient in multiple settings to quickly access new and past test results would increase patient safety and effectiveness of care.
  • Order management: The ability to enter and store orders for prescriptions, tests, and other services in a computer-based system will enhance legibility, reduce duplication and improve the speed with which orders are executed
  • Clinical decision support (CDS): Using reminders, prompts, and alerts, CDS would improve compliance with best clinical practices, ensure regular screenings and other preventive practices, identify possible drug interactions, facilitate diagnoses and treatments and reduce the frequency of adverse events
  • Electronic Communication and Connectivity: Improved communication among doctors, providers and other partners, such as laboratory, pharmacy, and radiology professionals, can enhance patient safety and quality of care. Electronic communication tools, such as e-mail and web messaging, have been shown to be effective in facilitating communication both among providers and with patients, thus allowing for greater continuity of care.
  • Patient support: Tools that give patients access to their personal health records and provide interactive patient education, will encourage greater involvement of patients in their own health care.

Q: Why do we need health information exchange?

A: Patients usually visit many different providers and go to different locations to receive health care, including doctors, nurses, hospitals, nursing homes, community health centers, and pharmacies. Each provider and location keeps its own medical records on its patients but providers cannot readily access records and important information about their patients’ care from other locations. Doctors and other health care providers can give patients better care and avoid mistakes if they have access to their complete medical history, such as lab tests, medication history, problem list, allergies, and other health reports. By having access to more complete medical history, providers and patients can make more informed decisions about the patient’s care plan, thus improving the quality of that care and avoiding medial errors.

Q: How is health information technology and health information exchange being funded?

A: Arkansas received $7.9 million in funding as part of the State Health Information Cooperative Agreement Program made available through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). This money will cover the initial costs of planning and developing the health information exchange.

There are several other HIT-related federal stimulus grants that have been awarded to several different agencies and organizations in Arkansas for:

  • Regional extension centers that help doctors make the transition from paper to electronic health records.
  • Incentive payments, (based on population and Medicaid enrollment), for doctors, hospitals, and other health care providers who become meaningful users of electronic health records.
  • Increased matching funds to cover states' administrative costs for Medicaid.
  • Broadband and telehealth
  • Electronic health record adoption in community health centers

Q: What are the benefits of HIT?

  • Improved quality and safety: HIT allows doctors and other providers to access important medical information about their patients and have a more complete understanding about a patient’s condition and treatments. This can improve care coordination and results.
  • Reduced cost: Studies have shown that HIT tools can help reduce costs by reducing duplicative tests or repetitive clinical tests. Eliminating paper from the health care system also results in administrative cost savings and improved efficiencies.
  • Access to patient information in an emergency or natural disaster: HIT tools can give providers the critical information they need in an emergency in a timely manner or if a patient arrives at the emergency room unconscious. In disaster situations, records might not be accessible at the location they were first recorded. HIT would allow providers to retrieve that information. Disasters such as floods, hurricanes, or fires can destroy paper records. Electronic health records can be backed up securely and stored in several locations.

Q: How secure are electronic health records?

A: Traditional methods for securing medical records are regulated to lock-and-key solutions for protecting physical medical record files. Electronic health records provide a higher level of accountability for use and and access by employing enhanced security and privacy layers such as electronic access control, electronic logging of access and use, electronic auditing of access, and the ability to review individual access to PHI in near-real time. These enhanced security operations are in addition to and build on traditional security controls such as housing resources within physical secure locations.

Q: What principles of security and privacy would be followed?

A: Existing privacy and security requirements under HIPAA and HITECH that cover access to and use of health information apply to electronic health information as well as traditional paper documentation. SHARE utilizes technologies, policies and processes to incorporate HIPAA and HITECH requirements into the management and oversight of health information that is exchanged through SHARE.

Q: Can the HIE Record be subpoenaed?

A: Yes, the HIE Record may be subpoenaed. OHIT will comply with all applicable state and federal laws in making disclosures of Protected Health Information. A Motion to Quash a subpoena will be filed for any information which is not disclosable.

Q: What is the process, supporting policy and procedure for highly sensitive Protected Health Information?

A: Information which is subject to special protection may not be included in SHARE. OHIT's Privacy Policy 500 states that Participants should assume that the following information is not available through SHARE: alcohol and substance abuse treatment records, records of predictive genetic testing performed for genetic counseling purposes, certain records of minors including diagnosis and treatment of suspected abuse. For more information see the privacy policy (PDF).

Q: Is the hospital liable if it has access to the data in the HIE and does NOT use it for treatment?

A: A Participant will not be liable for access, which complies with all applicable policies and regulation. The OHIT Privacy Policies 400 and 1200 state that all Participants are responsible to access, use and disclose Protected Health Information though SHARE consistent with applicable federal and state laws and regulations. Participants are all responsible for training and supervising their authorized users consistent with the Participants' and OHIT’s privacy policies and the terms of the Participation Agreement.

Q:  Are Participants required to get the patient’s signature on the opt-out form?

A: OHIT Policies allow the Participant to determine the process by which to notify OHIT when a patient has opted out. OHIT will use the documentation supplied by the Participant for auditing purposes.  




Arkansas Office of Health
Information Technology

The Prospect Building
1501 N. University Ave, Ste. 420
Little Rock, AR 72207
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