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Connecting Communities for Better Health Brings Nation Closer to Mobilizing Health Information for Patient Care


WASHINGTON, DC -- 12/16/2004 -- With electronic publication today of materials reflecting key insights by 75 health information exchange pioneers and HIT experts gathered at its December meeting, the Connecting Communities for Better Health (CCBH) Program brought state, regional and local health information exchange closer towards a common set of principles and strategies. These insights -- as well as survey results, tool-kits and action items generated by over 170 attendees from 45 states, regions and communities at CCBH’s Accelerating the Creation of State, Regional and Community-Based Health Information Exchange Organizations -- will support nationwide efforts to mobilize data for healthcare improvement. These resources are available at

Conducted by the eHealth Initiative Foundation (eHI) in cooperation with the Office of the Advancement of Telehealth, Health Resources and Services Administration within the US Department of Health and Human Services, and co-sponsored by the Workgroup for Electronic Data Interchange (WEDI), the December 6-7 event marked the first time key principles and alternatives for planning and implementing state, regional and community-based health information organizations and networks (most recently referred to as “RHIOs” by the Department of Health and Human Services in its Framework for Strategic Action) were discussed person to person, and community to community.

This invitation-only event featured a series of structured, interactive discussion groups where national experts presented a wide range of insights and where health information exchange pioneers shared their experiences in addressing organizational/governance, legal, technical and financing/sustainability challenges.

A pre-meeting survey of 59 health information organization participants showed the most difficult challenges facing health information exchange initiatives to be those related to financing and sustainability, building trust among diverse healthcare stakeholders, and addressing organization and governance issues -- with 76%, 56% and 41% of survey respondents ranking these items, respectively, as one of the top three challenges to health information exchange. Additionally, the survey showed that two primary capabilities being addressed by survey respondents are those related to delivering clinical results (75%) and patient-provider communication (54%). Finally, when asked about the role of the federal government, 63% of respondents said that federal financial incentives would be needed to accelerate health information exchange activities.

Meeting findings will both provide insight to those working in the field to accelerate the mobilization of data to support healthcare at the state, regional and local levels and inform emerging policies related to health information exchange. One such case in point is the work now underway by eHI’s Financing and Incentives Working Group co-chaired by John Glaser, PhD, Vice President and CIO, Partners Healthcare and Marianne E. DeFazio, CEBS, Director, Global Health Benefits, IBM. Launched earlier this month, the Working Group is evaluating and achieving multi-stakeholder consensus on a range of practical policy options for financing HIT and health information exchange.

The December meeting followed eHI’s First Annual Connecting Communities for Better Health (CCBH) Learning Forum in June; the announcement of CCBH’s funding of nine community-based health information exchange projects in July; and the launch of eHI’s Working Group for Connecting Communities in November co-chaired by Mark Frisse, MD, Director of Regional Health Initiatives of the Vanderbilt Center for Better Health and J. Marc Overhage, MD, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of the Indiana Health Information Exchange (for information on all eHI Working Groups, see The next Annual CCBH Annual Learning Forum will take place May 25-26, 2005 in Washington, D.C.

“This has truly been a remarkable year for mobilizing information to support patient care through health information technology and exchange,” said Janet M. Marchibroda, CEO, eHealth Initiative. “Through leadership demonstrated by both the public and private sectors we’ve moved health information exchange -- in less than a year -- from an idea contemplated by only a handful of communities to one that is being launched by over 100 states, regions and communities across the country.”

The eHealth Initiative Foundation’s Connecting Communities for Better Health Program, conducted under a cooperative agreement with the Health Resources and Services Administration Office of the Advancement for Telehealth provides seed funding and technical support to health information organizations.

The eHealth Initiative and the Foundation for eHealth Initiative are independent, non-profit affiliated organizations whose missions are the same: to drive improvement in the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare through information and information technology. For more information on eHI and the Foundation for eHealth Initiative, go to


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