The smallest state in the U.S. has some of the loftiest health IT endeavors under way, and leading the charge is Gary Christensen, CIO and COO of the Rhode Island Quality Institute (RIQI).
The nonprofit is the only organization in the country to receive federal funding for three of the HITECH Act's biggest programs. It serves as a regional extension center, runs the state's health information exchange, and leads Rhode Island's efforts as one of 17 national Beacon Community Programs.
RIQI last year helped Cumberland Primary Care, a member of RIQI's regional extension center, become the first practice in the country to send e-health record data to a state HIE using the direct messaging and interoperability protocols. If Rhode Island can scale the technologies' use statewide, it can serve as a model for larger states, and RIQI will have a national impact on health IT. "Rhode Island is an excellent petri dish," said Christensen.