Rocky Mountain HIT: On Colorado’s Ambitious Health IT Roadmap

June 19, 2019
Colorado’s Office of eHealth Innovation is moving that state forward on a path towards unprecedented public-private collaboration around healthcare IT development

Some very, very exciting things are happening these days in Colorado. Among them, the state’s policy leaders have created a statewide Health IT Roadmap—something that may be unique in the country; certainly, it remains on the absolute leading edge.

As the state’s Office of eHealth Innovation notes on its website, “The Office of eHealth Innovation was formed as a direct result of a consensus between public and private stakeholders on the need of Health IT governance. This group of stakeholders formed the Health IT State Designated Entity Action Committee and helped define the purpose of OeHI as a State Designated Entity (SDE).” And, the website notes, “In November 2015, Governor John Hickenlooper signed Executive Order B 2015-008 to officially create the Governor’s Office of eHealth Innovation and the eHealth Commission, with fiscal and administrative support from Health Care Policy and Financing (Health First Colorado). The Office of eHealth Innovation is responsible for defining, maintaining, and evolving Colorado's Health IT strategy concerning care coordination, data access, healthcare integration, payment reform and care delivery.” The website adds that, “To ensure that OeHI and the eHealth Commission create a strategy that reflects the wants and needs of Coloradans, they have created a Health IT Roadmap, which defines strategic initiatives to close the gaps in healthcare for patients and providers.”

And, out of the creation of the OeHI has emerged the state’s Health IT Roadmap. As the OeHI website notes, “On November 8th, Colorado's Health IT Roadmap was formally approved by the Governor's Office and unanimously approved by the eHealth Commission for implementation. The plan includes 16 high-level actionable initiatives that can be used as a reference for evaluating the direction of existing and future Health IT projects. Ultimately, the direction provided by this Roadmap will support Colorado's Triple aim— better care, lower costs and improved health for all Coloradans.”

What’s more, the website notes, “To launch efforts for the Colorado Health IT Roadmap, OeHI, with the support of Mosaica conducted interviews and a series of workshops that were held around the state to understand the wants and needs of individuals working with health information on a daily basis. Clinicians and team members, representatives of insurance firms, representatives of State agencies and departments, community-based organizations and individuals all participated.”

And the Roadmap represents a highly ambitious plan for Colorado and for the health of its residents. Among its top objectives: care coordination, consumer engagement, empowerment, and health literacy; the development of affordable and accessible health IT and health analytics; and the harmonization of data-sharing and health information exchange (HIE) capabilities, and integration of multiple types of health data. It also seeks to achieve statewide health data governance and health IT program management.

Meanwhile, this year’s objectives have been set high. As a public, online message from OeHI noted back in January, “The start of a new year is an opportunity to set new goals and aspirations, reflect about the past year and determine the best path forward. In 2018, the Office of eHealth Innovation (OeHI) and the eHealth Commission officially launched Colorado’s Health IT Roadmap with the support of communities and stakeholders. With this support and the leadership from OeHI and the eHealth Commission, funding was requested and appropriated by the State of Colorado and federal funding was requested from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to secure American Recovery and Reinvestment Act Health Information Technology (ARRA HITECH) funds to begin planning and implementation efforts.”

What’s more, the website notes, “Efforts are underway to officially launch OeHI's project management office (PMO) in partnership with the Governor's Office of Information Technology.” Further, that message noted that “The Office of eHealth Innovation and the eHealth Commission are moving boldly forward to advance other Roadmap domains as well. Several workgroups have launched to help define scope and prioritize initiative efforts. These workgroups are focused on care coordination for the whole person (health and social); advancing Colorado's regional health information exchanges (HIEs) - Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) and Quality Health Network (QHN) - and state data sharing efforts; defining requirements for consumer engagement and empowerment projects; and working with state agencies and community partners to align and harmonize how the state uses unique individual and provider identity to better support case management and care coordination. Data governance and electronic Clinical Quality Measurement (eCQM) initiatives are also top priorities and OeHI will be working closely with state agencies, clinicians, payers, and community members to support and expand projects underway.”

Also exciting is this Carrie Paykoc, interim director of the Office of eHealth Innovation of the State of Colorado, and Rachel Dixon, president and executive director of the Denver-based Prime Health, a digital health integrator organization, will co-present the opening keynote presentation at the Rocky Mountain Healthcare Innovation Summit, to be held July 15 at the Grand Hyatt Denver in downtown Denver. This will be a very exciting event, with leaders from across the Rocky Mountain region and the United States presenting on and discussing topics including collaborative care management, interoperability, EHR optimization, virtual care services development, and leveraging healthcare information technology to address the ongoing opioid crisis, among other important topics. It will be a not-to-be-missed event. And I can’t wait to hear what Carrie Paykoc has to share about the ongoing evolution of the Office of eHealth Innovation in Colorado, a particularly innovative state in all things IT-related.

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