Massachusetts Health Information Highway (Mass HIway) 

A doctor can care for you better when he or she has important information about your medical history. This includes knowing about your health problems, test results, allergies, and medications. Doctors sometimes use fax or mail to request and receive health information. But that takes time and it's hard to control who reads a fax or opens a piece of mail, so your information may not always be protected. 
 
Mass HIway (pronounced “mass highway”) is the shortened name for a new statewide computer network designed to make this process faster and safer. Mass HIway can help healthcare providers connect with members of your healthcare team, and to securely send and receive a your health information. The goal is better care coordination and quality for you and your family.
 
Mass HIway may only be used by healthcare organizations including doctors’ offices, clinics, hospitals, and health insurers for information sharing as allowed by law  (to plan treatment, to get payment from insurance companies, and operations, like reporting care quality). Speak to your doctor or office staff about what information is sent and why or click here for more information about the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. Click here for the Mass HIway Patient Fact Sheet.
 

Important things for you to know:

  • Your medical record itself is not part of the Mass HIway system. Your medical record is stored by the healthcare organization, the same way it is today. If you have an error in your medical record, speak with your provider or the office staff.
  • The Mass HIway cannot see any information sent over the network because it is locked and encrypted (coded).  
  • The Mass HIway is not a database of health information.
  • The Mass HIway is not an electronic health record system.  

How does the Mass HIway help me?

  • If you were discharged from the hospital and are going for a follow-up appointment, the hospital can use Mass HIway to send your doctor a note about your hospital stay. Then, you and your doctor could spend time talking about your follow-up care instead of paperwork.
  • If you get tests done, the doctor can use the Mass HIway to send the results to other members of your healthcare team, like your specialist. This helps them coordinate your care. It can also save you time and money by reducing the need for repeat tests.
  • If you have a chronic condition your health insurer case manager can use the Mass HIway to communicate with your doctors to coordinate your care and help you stay healthy.
  • Remember, the Mass HIway is a new tool, so all of your providers may not be using it yet. There will be more benefits for you as more healthcare organizations use the Mass HIway.

How does the Mass HIway protect my information?

The Mass HIway has security measures in place to protect your information that aren’t true of current methods, like fax, mail, or portable media like a CD or USB (flash drive). Many of the data breaches you hear about are from information being shared using those insecure methods.  Security measures include: 

  • Using a special code so that only authorized providers can read the information sent over the Mass HIway (this is known as encrypting data). 
  • Having a way to oversee who has access to the system and who has used it for a particular patient’s healthcare. You can get a copy of this list by speaking with your provider or the office staff and asking for an “accounting of disclosures”.
  • A user must have valid usernames and strong passwords.
  • All healthcare organizations using the Mass HIway have signed a contract to make sure they follow all state and federal laws to protect your information.
  • You will still need to give special permission for providers to request and receive certain sensitive information. This includes HIV and genetic testing results and substance abuse.

How do I get more information?

  • Talk with your doctor or their office staff about how they are using the Mass HIway.  

  • Email us at masshiway@state.ma.us

  • Call 1-855-MA HIway (624-4929) and press option 3