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Montana Governor Announces $20M Investment in State HIE

The state will allocate most of the funding to the continued development and implementation of the current HIE while also implementing new services.

Governor Greg Gianforte has announced a $20 million investment in Montana’s state-designated health information exchange (HIE), Big Sky Care Connect (BSCC).

BSCC is a platform that allows healthcare providers to securely share a patient’s health data electronically to improve the speed, quality, safety, and cost of patient care.

“This critical investment in Montana’s health care 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 taxpayer dollars,” Gov. Gianforte said in a public statement.

“The ability to have quick and secure access to medical records – regardless of location – is vital, especially in emergency situations when time is of the essence,” Gianforte added.

Currently, over 75 healthcare provider organizations and more than half of Montana hospital systems are connected to the HIE.  

“BSCC is committed to serving as Montana’s HIE, and excited for the opportunity to move this project forward in the years ahead,” noted Ben Tyrrell, BSCC chief executive officer.

Tyrrell said that the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services (DPHHS) connected its Medicaid claims system in November 2021 and is working on adding other health insurance organizations and payers. BSCC is also working to connect 40 additional providers to the HIE.

Adam Meier, director of DPHHS, said that the bottom line in enhancing statewide HIE is increasing efficiencies.

“No matter where an individual is seeking 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 every healthcare community across the state, and critical patient information will follow the patient when and where it is needed most.”

The project was able to leverage $15 million in federal funds due to support from DPHHS. Other funding sources include over $4 million in private contributions and $800,000 in state funds.

The state will allocate most of the funding to the continued development and implementation of the current system while adding new participants and implementing new services.

The development and implementation phase will continue through 2023.

Other planned improvements to BSCC include:

  • Establishing a clinical data repository to improve provider data access for better care coordination.
  • Implementing a patient event notification to improve provider care intervention.
  • Creating a quality measurement program to improve provider quality metric reporting.
  • Facilitating the exchange of images to improve healthcare outcomes.

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