By Cindy Munn, CEO

Louisiana Health Care Quality Forum

This week marks a momentous occasion: the 10th anniversary of National Health IT (NHIT) Week. For us, it’s a slightly smaller, but no less important, anniversary – it’s our third consecutive year to partner with hundreds of organizations across the country in NHIT Week.

The theme of this year’s NHIT Week, “One Voice, One Vision: Transforming Health,” is a special one to us because that’s just what we’re doing in Louisiana. Since our beginning in 2007, we have worked closely with our state and its many health care providers, facilities and organizations to build a comprehensive health IT infrastructure to improve the quality, delivery and cost of care as well as health outcomes. Thus, we are understandably proud this week to share an update on how far our state has come in the past eight years.

The Quality Forum, as the State-Designated Entity for health IT programs in Louisiana, continues to support health care providers and critical access/rural hospitals in the adoption and meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs). To date, more than 2,000 health care providers across 37 specialties in Louisiana have utilized the resources available through the Quality Forum to adopt EHRs.

In addition, the Quality Forum implemented and manages the Louisiana Health Information Exchange (LaHIE), a secure, confidential network through which authorized health care providers and organizations can electronically access and share health-related information for the purpose of improving patient safety, quality of care and health outcomes. Since its launch just four years ago, LaHIE has grown to include more than 240 health care providers, hospitals, school-based health centers, home health agencies and other health care companies across the state. Currently, LaHIE features nearly four million unique patient records and processes more than 79 million transactions per month. Its footprint encompasses nearly every parish in Louisiana.

In addition, the Quality Forum, in partnership with the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals (DHH), is leading a statewide consumer engagement campaign to provide education to Louisiana’s patients and families about health IT tools such as patient portals, EHRs and LaHIE and how these tools can be used to improve their health and health care. Louisiana is the first state in the nation to launch such a statewide, direct-to-consumer health IT engagement campaign.

These initiatives are how our state is transforming health care for its residents. The successes Louisiana has had in health IT adoption would not have been possible without the commitment and dedication of countless health care, consumer and community organizations, state agencies and health care providers and entities. So as we celebrate this year’s NHIT Week, we do so by extending our heartfelt gratitude and appreciation to those organizations, agencies and individuals for their hard work.

Together, we truly are building a healthier state.