Tag: Health Information Exchanges

Rebuilding the Tower of Babel – A CEO’s Perspective on Health Information Exchanges

Defining a Health Information Exchange

The United States is facing the greatest shortage of healthcare providers in American history. This is exacerbated by an expanding number of geriatric patients. In 2005, there was one geriatrician per five US people over 65. However, only nine out of the schools of medicine that have 145 in the country trained doctors who specialize in geriatrics. In 2020, the healthcare industry is expected to be in lacking 200,000 doctors and more than one million nurses. In the time of US healthcare have so many services been required with such a small amount of people. Due to this shortage, along with the increase in the number of elderly medical professionals need to come up with a method to deliver timely, accurate information to those who require it in a consistent manner. Imagine if flight control personnel were speaking the language of their nation instead of the present world-wide flight system, English. This scenario illustrates the urgent and crucial requirement for standardization of communication in the field of healthcare. An efficient information exchange will increase safety, decrease the length of hospital stays and reduce medication errors, decrease duplicates in laboratory testing or procedures, and improve the efficiency of healthcare by making it less invasive, faster and more efficient. The ageing US population as well as those affected by chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease and asthma will have to visit more specialists and require a method to connect with primary care professionals in a timely and efficient manner.

This efficiency can only be reached through standardizing the method that the exchange occurs. Healthbridge is one of the largest Cincinnati situated HIE which is one of the biggest community-based networks has been able to cut the risk of outbreaks of disease between 5 and 8 days to just 48 hours using an exchange of health information across the region. In terms of standardization, one researcher said, “Interoperability without standards is similar to a language that is not grammar. Both can be achieved , but the process is slow and, often, ineffective.”

United States retailers transitioned over 20 years ago to streamline the process of inventory, sales, and accounting controls, which improve efficiency and efficiency. Although it’s uncomfortable to consider people as inventories, maybe this is the reason why there isn’t a lot of a transition from the primary care environment to automation of medical records and other information. Imagine the typical Mom & Pop hardware store anywhere in middle America filled with inventory on the shelves, and making duplicate widgets because of insufficient information about the current inventory. Imagine the stores like Home Depot or Lowes and you can see the impact of automation on the retail industry with regard to scalability and effectiveness. Maybe this notion of the “art of medical practice” hinders more efficient, effective and effective medical care. Standards for exchange of information have been in place since 1989, but in recent years, interfaces have developed more quickly due to the increased the standardization of state and regional medical information exchanges.

History of Health Information Exchanges

The major cities that are located in Canada as well as Australia are the very first to implement HIE’s. Success of the initial networks was attributed to their integration with primary health EHR systems that were already in use. Level 7 Health Level 7 (HL7) represents the first standardization of health language process within the United States, beginning with an event with the University of Pennsylvania in 1987. The HL7 system has proven successful in replacing outdated interactions such as mailing, faxing and direct communication with providers which are often a source of duplicates and inefficiency. Process interoperability improves human understanding of health systems across networks to connect and communicate. Standardization is ultimately affecting the effectiveness of communication similarly to how grammar standards facilitate better communication. In the United States, the United States National Health Information Network (NHIN) is the one that sets the standards that facilitate this communication among health networks. The HL7 standard is currently in its third version , having been released in 2004. The objectives of HL7 are to enhance interoperability, establish coherent standards, train the market on standardization and cooperate with other sanctioning bodies such as ANSI and ISO which are also interested in the improvement of processes.

The United States one of the first HIE’s was established within Portland Maine. HealthInfoNet is an open-source partnership that is thought to be the most extensive overall HIE. The objectives of the network are to enhance the safety of patients, improve the quality of medical care and efficiency, cut down on duplication of services, recognize dangers to the public more quickly and improve access to patient records. The four founding organizations, Maine Health Access Foundation, Maine CDC, The Maine Quality Forum and Maine Health Information Center (Onpoint Health Data) started their work in 2004.

The project was initiated in Tennessee Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIO’s) established at Memphis as well as within the Tri Cities region. Carespark is which is a 501(3)c organization, located situated in the Tri Cities region was considered as a direct initiative wherein the clinicians directly interact with one another through the HL7-compliant system of Carespark as an intermediary for translating the data in a bidirectional manner. The Veterans Affairs (VA) clinics played an important role in the initial phases of the creation of the network. In the delta, the midsouth eHealth Alliance is a RHIO that links Memphis hospitals such as Baptist Memorial (5 sites), Methodist Systems, Lebonheur Healthcare, Memphis Children’s Clinic, St. Francis Health System, St Jude, The Regional Medical Center and UT Medical. These regional networks enable doctors to communicate medical records, lab results, medication and other reports in a more efficient way.