Colorado Loves Health IT!

Lynne VanArsdale

“It’s one a.m.! Who could be calling at this hour?,” I heard my husband mumble in his sleep. The call was from the heart surgeon I’d been working with for the past month. It was in the late 1990s and I had set up one of the first cross-ocean telemedicine systems. The system was down and the surgeon needed me to fix it right away. Throwing on some clothes, I ran the six blocks from my house to the medical center and was greeted by men in black suits with earpieces. They whisked me up to the 10th floor demark room. The problem was fixed in 5 min. Then the men in black politely, but insistently, invited then escorted me to a small conference room. In that room, different men in black sternly instructed me that I was “never there” that night. The next morning I heard on the radio that a foreign dignitary was recovering well from a heart attack he’d suffered in the middle of the night. I was hooked. I saw first-hand how health IT saved an important life, and that life saved many other lives. Wow.

I live in Colorado, a leader in health IT with strong programs in telehealth and health information exchange.

Telehealth: Colorado hospitals have been connected by Colorado Telehealth Network (CTN) for a good portion of this decade. Thanks to federal funding and progressive state legislation, even the most rural hospitals have the ability to electronically exchange both behavioral and physical health data over a subsidized broadband network. The CTN-run Colorado Telehealth Alliance informs, educates and promotes the adoption of telehealth across Colorado through meetings, grants, resources and events. CTN is a key contributor in Colorado’s State Innovation Model Program and the Colorado Legislature has been instrumental in passing laws that encourage the use of telehealth, especially to reach those remote from health care sources.

Health Information Exchange: Colorado supports two health information exchanges – the Quality Health Network (QHN) and the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO). QHN, established in 2004, was one of the 17 participants in the Beacon Community program (funded through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009) and covers the northwest quadrant of Colorado ( CORHIO covers the remaining portion of the state, offering numerous health information exchange services and practice transformation support services ( Both of these exchanges have enabled numerous cases of improving health while reducing costs and increasing coordination of care. Colorado’s government has driven the state’s leadership in pursuing the triple aim through innovation in and exploitation of Health IT.The Colorado chapter of the Health Information Management Systems Society (CHIMSS) supports and encourages this leadership through its annual Advocacy Day and many other programs to educate our legislature on the issues and opportunities. Please join us in celebrating National Health Information Technology week on October 5th at the Denver Art Museum.

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