The Arkansas Health Information and Technology Initiative (Initiative) would leverage Arkansas???s existing and planned broadband infrastructure, electronic health information exchange (HIE) activities, and statewide governing authorities in a collaborative effort to develop a coordinated, interoperable HIE using technologies aligned with national standards to connect healthcare and health services providers statewide. Subject to available funding resources, the Initiative will support Arkansas???s healthcare and public health stakeholders by planning the creation of a fully interoperable statewide HIE system in which policies and procedures, technical support, and sustainable financing allow for the meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR) by statewide healthcare business operations. The Initiative will use the cooperative agreement funding to: engage in building new partnerships and broad based collaborations; establish and support interim and long term project management, oversight and governance structures; and establish and staff a statewide Office of Health Information Technology. If additional funding becomes available, the initiative will assess, build upon and enhance statewide technology infrastructure and connectivity, communicate with and gather information from stakeholders and the general public to drive system capabilities, user interfaces, and value-added services, and plan for long term network maintenance and support.
Arkansas has many challenges to healthcare and health information technologies (HIT), such as having minimal integrated mechanisms for health information exchange and a large percentage of the population in poverty or medically underserved. However, recent activities such as the Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration and the Regional Quality Initiative have made significant inroads towards addressing barriers and planning for HIE and EHR adoption. Arkansas recently obtained federal funds to expand broadband services to over 200 healthcare facilities and is seeking further funding, and has applied for grants for a Regional HIT Extension Center. Arkansas has also drafted a Strategic Plan that is being revised to Cooperative Agreement guidelines. The Initiative is designed to conduct activities in collaboration with a broad range of stakeholders with participation ranging from serving on governing organizations and workgroups to participating in facilitated sessions to gather input for use in developing governance structures and technology solutions. These stakeholders include: local public health agencies, hospitals, healthcare providers, payers, researchers, patient representation, advocacy groups that represent underserved populations, and others. The HIT Initiative???s goals are to plan a statewide HIE effort that 1) is responsive to the healthcare needs of Arkansas???s stakeholders, 2) affords end-users secure, real-time access to electronic health records, 3) fosters collaboration to support statewide HIE adoption, 4) offers technical assistance to support statewide HIE use, 5) achieves meaningful use of HIT among statewide HIE system end-users, and 6) shares findings and lessons learned to promote quality and efficiency. These goals act as guidelines to reach targeted outcomes for adoption by 2015, with more than 50% of the state???s healthcare providers. As a result, Arkansas will have a model for a statewide HIE system that may be replicated by other states and will share ???lessons learned??? achieved under this grant