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In the last several months, the Idaho Health Data Exchange has welcomed a number of healthcare provider groups, hospitals and vendors as HIE participants. New membership has been the result of numerous drivers.
The finalization of Stage 2 meaningful use criteria and new reimbursement models such as accountable care organizations (ACOs) have created momentum and pressure for healthcare providers to develop long-term strategies for continuity of care, which requires being able to share patient information with other providers.
IDHE is working on CCD exchange to help healthcare organizations meet Stage 2 meaningful use criteria – through the Veterans Affairs connection it is building and with private healthcare organizations. Large healthcare organizations are in preliminary discussions regarding ACO activity and looking at IDHE as the access point to enable the ACO environment and also complement their strategies for population health management and quality reporting.`
In addition to the mandates for interoperability, healthcare providers are hiring more and more recent graduates who have been trained on information technology in medical schools and wanting to work for healthcare IT-equipped organizations. Physician champions are also finally getting traction with leaders of their healthcare organizations on the value of HIE.
IHDE has been able to conduct live demonstrations of the HIE to providers, which has turned out to be a "powerful tool" in highlighting the value of getting patient information to the provider in real time, said executive director Scott Carrell.
Primary Health Medical Group (PHMG), a multi-specialty group and one of IDHE’s participants, is already reaping the benefits of HIE. David Peterman, MD, president of PHMG, recently treated an infant in his clinic who had been seen at a local hospital. Through IHDE, he accessed the infant’s admission and discharge summaries, physical and lab tests, which was “absolutely critical” to his ability to treat the infant in real time as opposed to having to fax or call the hospital, which could easily have resulted in delays in care.
PHMG: A multi-level HIE strategy
PHMG, which is based in Boise, is engaged in a multi-level HIE strategy. Beginning in April, five physicians began a beta test program across 12 clinics. During the beta test, physicians will be accessing information from IHDE via PHMG’s electronic health record system. Upon completion, PHMG will roll out the program to all 45 of its providers. The second phase is to upload PHMG’s patient information into IHDE, making information available for doctors across the state. PHMG sees more than 200,000 patients annually. The goal is to get the clinics' patient encounter information uploaded into the IHDE by the end of the year, according to Carrell.
“By our being on the exchange and uploading our information, we demonstrate to the rest of the community and for that matter the state that it is essential for everyone to become a part of it [IDHE]. It’s part of our long-term strategy to seamlessly exchange information with providers from across the state,” Peterman said. “As an independent clinic, we want to be a leader in demonstrating how to successfully utilize the IDHE to provide a better level of care in a timely fashion."
PHMG's broader strategy is to comply with the Affordable Care Act. "As medical providers continue to implement elements of the ACA, it will become more essential to be able to exchange and access data. At PHMG we are working towards demonstrating that we are providing better care that is measurable. By having access to data we are better able to track and measure our efficiencies," he said. "The Idaho Health Data Exchange is the single best way to access patient information beyond our own clinics."
IDHE launches image exchange
IDHE launched an image exchange pilot program in early June, with St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Idaho, uploading some 13,000-plus images to date into IDHE’s system. IDHE is reaching out to participating healthcare providers and other providers in the region to make them aware of the new capability and the value of accessing diagnostic-quality images, namely in the reduction of costs associated with sharing PACS licenses, burning and couriering CDs and physically archiving images.
The image exchange isn’t designed to replace PACS systems, but it helps with communication and interoperability among providers in the community, according to Carrell. While it’s too early for quantitative ROI, thus far the image exchange has been successfully embraced by clinicians, which has prompted IDHE’s board to approve the rollout to other participating healthcare organizations. IDHE has been spending a significant amount of time demonstrating the image exchange to hospitals and imaging centers, and is close to signing up more participants.
"We've become an IT solution for organizations on the acquiring side," he said. Healthcare organizations are looking to streamline their IT solutions, and participating in an image exchange is one way to cost-effectively and efficiently meet that goal. “It [image exchange] is percolating a lot of interest,” Carrell said.