COLLEGE PARK, Md. - While attention focuses on the October 1 launch of a nationwide "health insurance marketplace," the University of Maryland's Robert H. Smith School of Business has provided expertise behind the scenes of this Affordable Care Act milestone.
Smith's Center for Health Information and Decision Systems (CHIDS) has helped prepare several states to administer "exchanges" to function as virtual marketplaces involving private insurers, where individuals and small businesses can shop and purchase insurance plans.
Officials, board members and specialists from Maryland, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, New Mexico, Rhode Island and Vermont have tapped into CHIDS expertise in design, use, operations and marketing of digital marketplaces.
"In 2012, we successfully launched a leadership program and hosted teams of senior executives and health care exchange board members for intensive teaching and debate of best practices for building and running these critically important organizations, said CHIDS Deputy Director Kenyon Crowley.
The state-based exchanges are able to customize their offerings to the unique needs and demographic and economic conditions within their respective state, whereas some states are using the federal exchange as their marketplace provider or using a hybrid approach. Close to home, CHIDS' worked with the Maryland Health Benefits Exchange, which has developed an online portal, Maryland Health Connection, to guide consumers through selecting from 65 qualified private health plans.
Crowley said Maryland is poised to meet its goal to sign up 150,000 of about 800,000 uninsured residents in the program's first 180 days. "The Maryland exchange has a strong leadership team and has been effectively deploying the infrastructure and operations to support signing up Marylanders," he said. "They opened their call center in August and have been hitting other important deadlines such as approving rates and carriers."
Smith's supporting role in enabling effective health insurance marketplaces is continuous. Researchers -- led by CHIDS founding Director Ritu Agarwal, the dean’s chair of information systems and Gordon Gao, CHIDS co-director and associate professor of information systems -- are studying issues affecting consumer’s ability to make informed health purchasing decisions. This includes understanding quality, cost and financial information available through the new exchanges and other online sources.
CHIDS' Nov. 15-16 Workshop on Health IT and Economics (WHITE) in Washington D.C., will showcase such expertise from internationally respected presenters. "We are featuring cutting edge research on the adoption and effective use of information systems to achieve healthcare transformation," Crowley said.
Health insurance marketplaces are the focus of a WHITE conference keynote speech and a panel focusing on trends, innovations, barriers and facilitators to achieving a well-functioning marketplace ecosystem that empowers consumers and supports effective management. Other sessions will address how consumers are finding and using health-related information online, and much more.
About the Center for Health Information and Decision Systems
CHIDS is an academic research center that works in collaboration with industry and federal, state, and local government affiliates. Its mission is to research, analyze and find solutions to challenges surrounding the introduction and integration of information and decision technologies into the healthcare system. CHIDS seeks to understand how digital technologies can be more effectively deployed to address outcomes such as patient safety, healthcare quality, efficiency in healthcare delivery, and a reduction in health disparities. CHIDS offers the benefit of a world-class research staff and renowned scholars in the economic, social, behavioral, and managerial aspects of technology implementation, adoption, assimilation, and return on investment. Read more at http://ter.ps/chids.
Follow CHIDS on Twitter via twitter.com/HealthIT.
Keynon Crowley, CHIDS deputy director