Connecting Michigan Health Care Through Information Technology

Allison Shimp

| 3 min read

Doctors using tech
Providing effective, quality care in today’s ever-evolving digital landscape requires technology and data connectivity to play a crucial role in the health care system. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan’s IT team understands the importance of this connectivity, also known as interoperability. They work closely with Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services (MiHIN), a non-profit collaboration that works to improve MI health care by sharing electronic health information, to overcome challenges in that digital information exchange across the state.

Examining Interoperability

In short, interoperability is the ability of different information systems, devices, or applications to coordinate connections within and across organizations. This coordination creates safe access, exchange, and cooperative use of data with the goal of optimizing the health of individuals and populations. Think about the last time you visited a doctor and wanted them to see something specific from your medical history, like an x-ray or a lab result or a claim from your prior insurer. At times this information is shared on paper or possibly with the provider’s system if they have a working relationship with the organization that did the x-ray or lab test. Sounds complicated. It can be. Interoperability unlocks the data so it can flow between the organizations and makes it available to your doctor when they need to see it. That whole process of providing care via information flowing from lab or insurer to doctor is an example interoperability in action. Making that process work requires collaboration across the state from a host of teams and organizations.

Connecting Michigan for Health and More

Last year the BCBSM IT team sponsored a series of MiHIN virtual events that brought together health care IT professionals from across the state to discuss interoperability and more under the theme “Health Care Technology 3.0”. Participants and panel leaders took on challenges in a variety of information and technology topics over the course of multiple collaborative workshops:
  • Health Care Technology 3.0 – Exploring the New Paradigm: A deeper look at how shifts in today’s health care landscape and technology, in tandem with challenges arising from the Covid-19 Pandemic, impact information sharing and health service delivery across Michigan. This workshop also examines new tech tools and processes being used to meet those interoperability challenges.
  • Social Determinants of Health Workshop: An exploration of how technology in care sectors and systems impacts health equity through the exchange of community information to create a Community Integrated Health Network.
  • Virtual Care (Telehealth & Patient Reported Outcomes): Examining how two rapidly changing market forces, value-based care and digital consumer health, are coming together to change how we look at centralized data and resources to deliver care in a virtual space.
  • The Future of Electronic Consent: As technology allows people to provide their consent online for medical treatment and to share protected health information, digital tools are playing a much more important role in the safety and access of patient information. Panelists discuss the benefits of these tools to empower patients to make more informed decisions through better access to their own health care data and increased confidence in the consent process.

Supporting Collaboration for the Future

Knowing the value of these conversations and the impact they have on the future of health care interoperability, the BCBSM IT team feels there is great importance in supporting these types of events. Thanking Blue Cross for their sponsorship of the Connecting Michigan event series, MiHIN Executive Director Tim Pletcher says, “Blue Cross has really provided a leadership position in our state. In Michigan we’ve seen the Blues really step forward and do a lot of multi-payor, all-patient kinds of activities that have essentially risen all boats in the state.” Photo credit: Getty Images 
MI Blues Perspectives is sponsored by Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, a nonprofit, independent licensee of the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association