Vermont Health Information Exchange - April 5, 2024

Beth Anderson (President and CEO, Vermont Information Technology Leaders (VITL)) testified at the House Health Care Committee on Friday to review the purpose and activities of the organization. VITL was founded in 2005 and operates the Vermont Health Information Exchange (VHIE). The plan was approved by the Green Mountain Care Board (GMCB). The GMCB has the authority to approve VITL’s budget.

Board members represent hospitals, health care providers, health technologists, payers (insurers), and businesses across Vermont. VHIE encompasses two related concepts:

  1. Appropriate and confidential electronic exchanges of clinical information among authorized organizations.
  2. Collect information about the cost of patient care.

Electronic exchange of clinical information allows doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care providers to access and securely share a patient’s vital medical information electronically. Thus, improving the speed, quality, safety, coordination, and cost of patient care (i.e. not having to re-perform tests done by other providers).

VITL collects, matches, and standardizes patient data in real time from health care providers to create one longitudinal record for each patient. It serves as a hub for efficient data sharing, eliminating the need to build and maintain multiple point-to-point connections. It protects patient data through robust security practices and ensuring appropriate access to data. It makes data available to inform about patient care, quality improvement, health care reform, public health activities and case management. The participants include hospitals, Federally Qualified Health Centers, independent specialty primary care practices, home health agencies, nursing homes and long-term care facilities, pharmacies, laboratories, departments of the State, designated mental health and specialized services agencies, emergency medical services and insurance companies. In all there are about 150 different organizations using this service.

Data is available through the VITLAccess’ clinical portal via web browser and delivered into electronic health record systems. Currently, it delivers lab results, radiology reports, and transcribed reports. Other means of delivering data are currently under development.

Data sharing is governed by service agreements between VITL and organizations that contribute and use data. These service agreements are guided by VITL policies, state law, and federal law (including HIPAA). An individual Vermonter’s data is available to authorized users, unless they opt-out to block their data from view. Currently, 98.9% of Vermonters are sharing their data and 1.1% of Vermonters have opted-out.

Anderson shared that protecting patient data is the foundation of the work of VITL to secure information and assuring appropriate access to the data, which includes honoring patient’s rights and preferences. The majority of the funding VHIE’s is through a contract with the Agency of Human Services (AHS). The State receives funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), leveraged by dollars generated by a portion of the State’s Health Care Claims Tax. Additional revenue is derived from custom reporting contracts, secure messaging services, and event notification services.

Anderson also shared information about a new partnership with public health organizations that is intended to further strengthen a connection with the Vermont Immunization Registry, enabling providers to obtain immunization history to assist with future planning. In the future, VITL plans to work with AHS to support the development of the UNIFIED Health Data Space and connecting with as many providers as possible, and integrating that data into VHIE, such as substance use disorder data and social determinants of health data.

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