Health Information Technology

Arizona, Colorado health information exchanges merge

The Colorado Regional Health Information Organization and Health Current in Arizona have completed a merger they initiated last year, they announced Tuesday.

The two health information exchanges will now operate as a combined not-for-profit regional HIE dubbed Contexture. CORHIO and Health Current disclosed plans to merge in late 2020 and signed an affiliation agreement earlier this year. Contexture will serve roughly 1,800 healthcare organizations in Colorado and Arizona.

Bringing CORHIO and Health Current together will allow Contexture to more efficiently deliver their existing HIE services, according to the two organizations. The new company also will establish an innovation team dedicated to developing new data and analytics services. The innovation team will initially focus on creating new tools and services for state programs such as Medicaid and public health agencies.

HIEs resurged during the COVID-19 pandemic as the crisis spotlighted the importance of quickly sharing population-level data. HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology last year doled out $2.5 million to help HIEs better respond to future public health emergencies.

ONC is also in close to finalizing its Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, a provision of the 21st Century Cures Act that will set federally recognized data-sharing standards for state, regional and national health information networks.

Despite their increased importance, a growing number of HIEs have consolidated in recent years, seeking savings on technology costs, a larger participant pool and other advantages.

Health Current’s chief executive officer, Melissa Kotrys, will take the helm at Contexture and lead the new organization’s nearly 200 employees. Kotrys also serves as board chair of the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative, a national group of HIEs. CORHIO CEO Morgan Honea will serve as Contexture’s executive vice president.

“Contexture has the potential to serve communities as the largest health information organization in the West,” Kotrys said in a news release. “For decades, we have empowered providers with information on millions of unique patients and today are in a position to better serve the needs of national payers, health systems and state and federal agencies.”

A board of 19 directors from local health systems, safety-net providers, health plans, behavioral health providers, laboratories and state agencies will govern Contexture.