Healthcare News & Insights

How other hospitals achieve interoperability without breaking the bank

In today’s industry, sharing accurate clinical information is a vital part of keeping patient outcomes positive. So how are other providers closing information gaps? 

Many hospital leaders have realized achieving interoperability and securely sharing medical records with other providers is often easier said than done.

Many electronic health record (EHR) systems have trouble interacting with other systems. Plus, leaders are often skeptical of sharing with competitors, and worry about sharing information in a way that exposes them to HIPAA violations.

But some areas of the country are having an easier time than others, like in the greater Philadelphia region, where organizations have built an effective, cost-efficient health information exchange (HIE) to share patient data.

Payor-provider collaboration

Philadelphia has many providers and health system in the area whose operations often overlap when delivering care, especially for patients with chronic conditions.

But as Healthcare Informatics reports, Philly organizations have begun communicating more and filling in information gaps about patients’ health by participating in the HealthShare Exchange of Southwestern Pennsylvania.

Payors in the area knew it was crucial for facilities in the area to be in touch with one another, and began constructing an HIE and gathering provider support, says Dr. Richard Snyder, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Independence Blue Cross.

Currently, 15 hospitals have signed on and 37 other health systems in the area have signed letters showing their commitment to join. Snyder, a board member on the HealthShare board, notes that the success of the exchange is largely due to collaboration among payors and providers in region.

For example, the exchange is sustainable in part because it’s funded by participant fees, rather than relying continuously on grants or for one provider or payor to front the bill.

It’s not just the collaborative spirit that separates HealthShare from other HIEs.

Different kind of HIE

Unlike other HIEs, which can have limited scope and can be expensive to maintain, the HealthShare exchange isn’t built around a query-based exchange from a central source.

Instead, the system provides a master index of patients which shows a list of physicians and facilities from whom patients have received care. When a patent leaves the ER or a specialist, providers can send a discharge summary report through their EHR. HealthShare then sends copies to that patient’s doctors to keep them updated.

Furthermore, the exchange collects patients’ lab results, diagnoses and treatments, in addition to their physician information, and summarizes the material into a pdf report.

In this way, the exchange relies on collaboration among providers to create a clearer picture of patient health, which can be accessed at any time.

Interoperability will continue to be an important part of improving operations. So other hospitals may want to take a page out of HealthShare’s book, and make information exchanges a more collaborative effort among other providers in your area. Involve payors, other providers and your organization’s typical partners to form a more complete image of where and how patients receive care.

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