Does that mean you have to sell your organization and its mission? Sometimes I feel like we get put in that position. It's more negotiating what makes sense to do: participating in this state exchange versus participating with the vendor. It looks sometimes to the customer like the same thing, and we have to sort it all out for them.
Do healthcare providers have to pay to be part of your group? Eventually they will. We will be developing our sustainability model. We have funding to last us approximately four more years, and our sustainability requirements aren't great because we're not a profit-making organization. But it will be one of our future challenges.
What are other challenges? Short term is developing that sustainability model, driving the value and managing the initiatives with limited resources. But longer term, it is consumer engagement. We have a patient portal, so there will be a point where patients could access their records, regardless of who contributed that information.
Is the patient portal active? It is active, but we haven't deployed it. We have a pilot coming up in the next few months. We expect that to be managed by the providers themselves, for them to give patients access. But we're hosting the application, and we have to develop the policies around the use of the patient portal and how the providers can provision and manage within that portal. Then patients would be able to access and see and download any information in there to their own personal health records.
What are the biggest opportunities around this initiative? It is really for improving access to information to healthcare providers so they can make decisions sooner with the right information, and they can improve outcomes and lower costs. To me, it's really hitting home because I'm having this type of experience. My father has [healthcare providers] coming to the home and they're asking the same questions. But if they had the information through an exchange, they'd have those answers before they walk through the door. It's almost like they're working with blindfolds on. It's amazing to me to think about how much of a difference it can make in the future.
Are you seeing that difference now? We are. The stories are starting to come through. Yesterday we worked with a public health [official who was] able to access and validate information about a disease. It was a public health mandatory reportable disease. We were trying to see if the system had information valuable to her. In three minutes, she found information that before would have taken her three days to find.
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