Louisville team designs health exchange

Louisville Health Information Exchange

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A nonprofit organization led by University of Louisville researchers is seeking a contractor to build a system for exchanging health records for 100,000 or more people in the Louisville, Ky., area.

The Louisville Health Information Exchange (LouHIE) wants the contractor to develop and operate the system at its own expense. The organization expects to generate at least $6 million in annual revenues, quickly recouping the $4 million or more that a contractor would invest.

The organization has scheduled its first board meeting for Feb. 20, said Judah Thornewill, a researcher in the university’s School of Public Health and Information Sciences.

“Our department will provide the turnkey management team for the start-up” of the health information exchange, Thornewill said. The exchange will be the first of its kind in the United States. The contractor, which the group expects to select by July 1, would take over from the university team.

University researchers with specialties in health and complex organizations designed LouHIE to be self-sufficient and to achieve results quickly, Thornewill said. William Yasnoff, a consultant and former senior adviser to the federal government on health information technology, also helped design the exchange.

Seats on the 16-member board have been reserved for representatives of the Louisville government, the state-run Medicaid program and the federal Medicare program, although private-sector representatives will outnumber those from government, organizers said.

Participation in the exchange will cost each user $60 a year. Employers or a state or federal health program will pay most of those fees, which will be offset by the savings in efficiency and reduced medical errors, Thornewill said. Patients will control who has access to their records.

Doctors will be paid about $3 for each patient treatment record they submit, a sum that could mean $15,000 a year in new revenues for participating physicians. Doctors can use whatever clinical information system they wish, as long as they can transmit standard records to the LouHIE repository, Thornewill said.

The organization’s request for proposals asks would-be contractors to submit a letter of intent by Feb. 27 and a proposal by May 1.

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