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Federal Advocacy
Regulatory Issues (HIPAA/Medicare/FCLCA/NPI)

Regional Health Information Organizations



HIMSS State Dashboard

The HIMSS State Dashboard is a completely free tool that puts credible and current data on regional health information organizations (RHIOs) and state health IT initiatives at your fingertips.

This strategic on-line business resource links users to information on:

  • Grants: Learn more about grants awarded to communities, hospitals, providers and healthcare systems with information on funding and grant specifics.

  • RHIO Specifics: Go to information on RHIOs and their current status, updated every six months, RHIO details can easily be downloaded to a spreadsheet.

  • State Legislation Tracking: Updated annually, this tool offers descriptions and summaries of, and the HIMSS position on, pending state legislation.

  • Davies Award Winners: Access information about the Davies Award recipients.

  • HIMSS Chapters: Find the locations of and contact information for the 47 HIMSS chapters.

State Healthcare Knowledgebase

And, if you're looking for more detailed, state-level information, check out HIMSS Analytics' State Healthcare Knowledgebase for current information on:

  • State statistics across the nation related to population growth, healthcare spending, and employment
  • RHIOs and their activity, amount of funding, focus, primary sponsors, and members throughout the U.S.
  • The key payers, employers, industries, healthcare providers and organizations on a state-by-state basis

Optometrists are encourgaged to play an active role in shaping the Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs) that are established across the nation.  RHIOs provide the basic building blocks for the federal government’s planned National Health Information Network (NHIN). Under the NHIN project, all Americans are to have electronic health records (EHRs) that can be transferred among health care providers, making critical health information available whenever or wherever it may be needed. RHIOs, developing at the state and regional levels, provide the basic infrastructure through which these health records are transferred. Hospitals have been the major driving force in the development of RHIOs. In many (if not most) states, government agencies or commissions have been established to oversee the development of the area’s electronic health information system.

Electronic health records and the NHIN will reshape American health care. For that reason, it is imperative that optometrists play a very active part in developing the network and the standardized EHR that will be used for patients. Otherwise, there is a risk that the nation will adopt electronic health records that will not adequately meet the needs of eye care patients or practitioners. Moreover, there is the risk that optometry, as a profession, could be shut out of the network or relegated to second-class provider status.

The AOA is closely monitoring the work of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT), the federal agency established with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to oversee development of the NHIN. AOA has previously testified before key committees and commissions regarding the needs of optometrists and eye care patients that must be considered in the development of the network. It is critically important that individual optometrists immediately become involved in the entities that are developing the RHIOs in their respective areas.

A list of presently operating RHIOs and RHIO initiatives, compiled by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, follows. Optometrists in the states listed, working in conjunction with their state optometric associations, should use the contact information to inquire about serving on the boards or commissions overseeing the RHIOs. They should definitely ask how they can become participating practitioners in the RHIO, and begin sending and receiving electronic health records. Optometrists in states not listed may wish to consult the RHIO information resources (see Box) or contact their state department of health to determine if a RHIO is being established in their locality. The chances are that one already is established.

Optometrists who join RHIO boards, become participating providers, or have information regarding their area RHIO should inform their state optometric association as well as the AOA.

Operating RHIOs and RHIO Initiatives NHINWatch.com maintains a list of RHIOs currently operating and RHIO Initiatives developing.

RHIO resources

Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's information on RHIOs -- The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology's (ONCHT’s) RHIO page includes links to the full text of speeches and presentations by David J. Brailer, M.D., as well as Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt (www.os.dhhs.gov/healthit/rhio.html).

Maine Health Data Organization (MHDO) -- The MHDO is an independent state agency that collects clinical and financial health care information and makes it available to the public for research and analysis. (mhdo.maine.gov/imhdo)

The eHealth Initiative -- This public-private sector collaborative effort for public health focuses on bringing about an interconnected electronic health information infrastructure by promoting the adoption of clinical data standards and interoperability. The initiative of more than 100 members includes involvement of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), public health agencies, providers, standards organizations, and health care IT suppliers. Among its aims is the development and implementation of strategies to transmit electronic data of public health importance (for example, lab results, microbiology results, orders, and chief complaint data) using interoperable standards and the CDC's National Electronic Disease Surveillance System (www.ehealthinitiative.org).

RHIO Wiki–An interactive Web site on health information exchange and regional health information organizations (RHIO). Wiki allows users to access information on local and regional data exchange programs, as well as share their own experiences or ask questions. The site is modeled on the popular Wikipedia Web encyclopedia site. It is maintained by the Center for Health Transformation, the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives and the eHealth Initiative. (www.rhiowiki.com)