Local hospital joins interoperability pilot

Anthony Gonzalez Staff Reporter

December 25, 2013

Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital was selected by CommonWell Health Alliance (the Alliance) as a participating region for its first rollout of CommonWell’s interoperability services.

The goal of the rollout is to connect providers from across the health care continuum to health data between disparate care settings.

According to HCMH, the data exchange is a critical component to improving care efficiency, quality and outcomes.

“Hugh Chatham Memorial Hospital is pleased to be included in CommonWell Health Alliance’s launch,” said Lee Powe, chief information officer at HCMH. “The sharing of patient data is critical to improving health care quality and patient outcomes, as well as reducing costs to patients, providers and payers. HCMH believes participation in this effort supports our vision and mission.”

Scheduled to start at the beginning of 2014, the initial launch provides an opportunity for the Alliance to bring to production its vision of cross-vendor data liquidity, demonstrating that the vendor members will be able to efficiently and accurately share patient medical information across IT systems.

The Alliance members will be validating a unique patient-centric identity and matching approach, and a consent-driven record sharing and retrieval process across care facilities.

Specifically, the initial participating providers will be supporting the launch by enrolling patients into the service and managing patient consent protocol; identifying whether other provider participants have data for a patient that is enrolled in the network when the patient is at their setting of care; and transmitting data to another provider that has consent to view data on that enrolled patient.

“That means when someone comes into the hospital who just had a blood test (as an example) from a doctor a few days ago, doctors will be able to see patient data and know what happened days ago,” said Powe. “All of the information is readily available because we use variety of things like iris scanning, taking pictures of patients, having a self-registration kiosk. Since we already collect the data with these technologies, matching up with Alliance was a perfect connection.”

Powe favors iris scanning technology because he finds it to be a better fit for the patient and safer compared to palm technology.

“Iris scanning allows for accurate identity without having the patient come in contact with anything,” said Powe. “However, the more powerful tool is how information is stored and how doctors can retrieve data on their patients.”

For participating providers, the interoperability services will improve the speed and efficiency with which they are able to access the patients’ data, regardless of which HIT system other providers are using.

“Data can make a difference in patient care,” said Powe.

According to Alliance, patients will be empowered to control access to their data through an opt in process and to facilitate the linking of their records by confirming matches and by providing additional information, such as a driver’s license, to further validate their identity.

Powe said Alliance’s vision and mission are to enable patients to be at the center of their health care with new tools to better manage who can access their medical history and when.

The HCMH launch will focus on exchanging patient data between acute and ambulatory practices. HCMH and Hugh Chatham Family Medicine will participate.

Reach Anthony Gonzalez at 835-1513 or agonzalez@civitasmedia.com.