Major Investment in Montana Health Information Exchange



Date: May 20, 2022

Brooke Stroyke, Office of the Governor
Jon Ebelt, Department of Public Health and Human Services

BILLINGS, Mont. – Together with Adam Meier, Director of the Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) and Ben Tyrrell, Managing Director of Big Sky Care Connect (BSCC), Governor Greg Gianforte today announced an investment of $20 million dollars in the state’s Health Information Exchange (HIE).

“This critical investment in Montana’s healthcare IT ecosystem will support ongoing efforts to improve the overall experience for patients and clinicians across the state, while saving lives, creating efficiencies and saving taxpayers money,” Governor Gianforte said. “The ability to have quick and secure access to medical records – regardless of location – is vital, especially in emergency situations where time is of the essence.”

Governor Gianforte, Billings Clinic CEO Scott Ellner, and BSCC’s Ben Tyrrell discuss Montana’s investment in the state’s HIE

BSCC is the state-designated HIE of Montana, a platform that enables doctors, nurses, pharmacists and other healthcare providers to appropriately access and securely share vital medical information from a patient electronically, improving the speed, quality, safety and cost of patient care.

Currently, more than 75 medical provider organizations and more than half of Montana’s hospital systems are signed as partners with Big Sky Care Connect. These organizations encompass more than 350 provider locations statewide.

“BSCC is committed to serving as Montana’s HIE and is excited to have the opportunity to move this project forward for years to come,” Tyrrell said.

Tyrrell said DPHHS connected its Medicaid claims system in November 2021. BSCC is working to add more health insurance agencies and other payers. BSCC also works with over 40 additional vendors to connect to the HIE.

Tyrrell said he hopes more suppliers will sign up now that this contract is in place. “This investment should reassure providers that Montana is committed to providing a quality HIE in the future,” he said.

Meier said the key is to increase efficiency. “No matter where a person seeks treatment in Montana, it’s more efficient if providers can access patient health information at the point of care,” he said. “Once fully implemented, this platform will bring together all of the state’s healthcare communities, and critical patient information will follow the patient when and where it is most needed.”

Meier recognizes that while there is more work to be done, having access to a complete patient medical record saves valuable time that providers would otherwise spend searching for and retrieving a patient’s information, and gives providers more time with a patient.

The bulk of the funding will be allocated to the ongoing design, development and implementation of the current system, including work to expand current technology, while adding new participants and implementing new services. The development and implementation phase will continue through 2023. With support from DPHHS, the project was able to leverage $15 million in federal funds. Other sources of funding include over $4 million in private contributions and $800,000 in public funds.

The announcement also included a panel discussion with several Billings public health leaders, including Billings Clinic neurologist Dr. Steven Arbogast; Dr. Justen Rudolph of Intermountain Healthcare; Dr. Randy Thompson, director of health analytics at the Billings Clinic; Dr. Eric Arzubi, Frontier Psychiatry; Lenette Kosovich, CEO of the Rimrock Foundation; and Aubrey Peterschick, CEO of Advanced Care Hospital.

Other enhancements planned for the BSCC include:

  • Establish a clinical data repository to improve provider data access for better care coordination. For example, if a family has been moved to another city due to a wildfire or if adults are traveling out of state for work, providers will have access to their electronic health record.
  • A patient event alert notification to improve care provider response. Notifications are generated when a patient experiences a significant event such as a hospital admission, discharge, or emergency room visit. Members of the patient’s care team can access these notifications so that proactive, timely, and cost-effective interventions can take place when these events occur.
  • Implement a quality measurement program to improve supplier quality measurement reporting. Analyzes fill in gaps and expose useful insights into patterns, markers, and other information relevant to the overall delivery of quality patient care. It also provides essential information for providers, plans, state agencies, and others invested in improving the overall delivery of health care in Montana.
  • Facilitate the exchange of images to improve health care outcomes. The BSCC will be able to facilitate the delivery of diagnostic images alongside the interpretive report from providers so that collaborating members of a patient’s medical team or those responding to emergencies have access to their diagnostic images. historical.

For more information, visit the CCSB website.


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