California eHealth Collaborative announced a successful demonstration of electronic exchange of clinical information to improve patient care. The Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) Connect software, released by the federal government in April, was showcased in June by five separate Health Information Exchange (HIE) projects in California.
San Francisco, CA (PRWEB) June 28, 2009 -- California eHealth Collaborative announced today that five community-based health information exchange (HIE) projects in California successfully tested the exchange of clinical health information to improve patient care. Taking advantage of recently released Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) Connect software, Kaiser Permanente, Long Beach Network for Health, ER Connect- Orange County, Redwood MedNet and Santa Cruz HIE verified the ability to share patient clinical information among regional networks across the state. The public test demonstrated how clinicians might treat a patient within an emergency room care or other clinical settings by obtaining critical clinical information from the patient's medical record in another location.
"We are pleased to demonstrate that local provider organizations have the ability to securely share health care information with each other and to access information from previously established NHIN gateways," states Jamie Ferguson, Executive Director of Health Information Technology Strategy and Policy for Kaiser Permanente and a member of the HHS HIT Standards Committee.
This technical demonstration shows that any community-based (HIE) or provider network that conforms to the NHIN standards can securely exchange clinically-relevant data for treatment purposes. Providing local physicians and safety net providers with low cost access to data exchange technology is a key component of the Obama Administration's goal of meaningful use of electronic health records (EHR) by 2014.
"Our NHIN Gateway is a federally-funded asset and we can now use this resource to rapidly expand the ability to improve patient care by connecting with other health information exchanges in the state simply by using national standards," states Laura Landry, Executive Director of Long Beach Network for Health. "California needs the ability to share patient data across regions to the point of care, and we have just demonstrated how to do that using the Internet as the backbone and the NHIN standards as the on-ramp. Now that the technical challenge is solved, we are looking forward to the NHIN governance evolving in order to solve the policy challenges and share real patient data for patient care."
The ARRA 2009 stimulus legislation, signed into law in February, provides incentives for the adoption of certified EHR technology, with grants and loans offered to participants to improve care to patients. Once this technology becomes more widespread, it will be easier for doctors and other members of care teams to have a more complete picture of a patient's health status regardless of where each member is located.
"We have signed the necessary agreements and set up policies in order to expand beyond our current exchange and to offer the community the ability to securely link directly to the NHIN through our product," comments Keith Matsutsuyu, CEO of ELM Technologies, the operator of ER Connect -Orange County, the current health information exchange in Orange County.
"The demonstration illustrated the power and importance of standards," said Bill Beighe, Chief Information Officer for Physicians Medical Group of Santa Cruz. "We showed that a mixture of commercial and open source NHIN Gateways running on different hardware and EHR software platforms could seamlessly exchange clinical data."
"This demonstration of the Federal Health Architecture gateway is a breakthrough for the many regions in California which are already exchanging or are planning to exchange clinical data," notes Will Ross, Project Manager for Redwood MedNet, a health information exchange in Mendocino which delivers more than 5,000 laboratory results a month from safety net hospitals to small physician practices. "The NHIN Connect gateway, released just two months ago, is a game changer. With this new software published by the federal government at no cost, local HIEs do not have to wait for a large vendor to build a costly, monolithic statewide utility service because local HIEs can network health data now using a secure public framework."
"Interoperability requires policies, standards, and architecture. The NHIN Connect software provides a standards-based transport mechanism that connects organizations in support of meaningful use," said John Halamka, MD, Co-Chair of the National Health IT Standards Committee, upon learning of the California eHealth NHIN Gateway demonstration. "The California eHealth Collaborative participants have been early adopters of NHIN Connect and I applaud their efforts."
A key feature of the California eHealth Collaborative demonstration included the appropriate privacy and security measures necessary in any health information exchange. While the demonstration used test data rather than live patient data, the participants signed a test Data Use and Reciprocal Support Agreement (DURSA), which was modeled after the DURSA developed for the federal NHIN demonstration in December 2008.
The HIEs participating in the California eHealth demonstration were Kaiser Permanente, Long Beach Network for Health, ER Connect- Orange County, Redwood MedNet and Santa Cruz HIE. The participants exchanged electronic a clinical summary of each patient's care, sending the type of referral document that might be faxed between a referring primary care physician and a specialist. Multiple records were exchanged to show that the process is general and not a special case.
Each data exchange was observed by an audience including members of the California Office of Health Information Integrity and other stakeholders in health care delivery in California. The exchanges were recorded in an online webinar and are available on the California eHealth Collaborative website at www.caehc.org. The patient care scenario behind the data exchange demonstration is also available on the Collaborative website.
About California eHealth Collaborative:
California eHealth Collaborative (http://www.caehealth.org) was formed in February 2009 to accelerate statewide collaboration in the development and deployment of secure and practical health information exchange. The mission of the California eHealth Collaborative (CAeHC) is to provide a unified voice for health information exchange participants promoting secure access to clinically relevant information at the point of care throughout California.
About ER Connect- Orange County
ER Connect was founded in 2008 to provide a fully-functioning Health Information Exchange (HIE) and suite of supporting web-based solutions under a single, fully-integrated umbrella for those public/private organizations serving the "forgotten population" in Orange County, Calif. -- the underinsured and uninsured. SafetyNet Connect has accomplished this through its 5 offerings, AuthMed, eCEDA, ER Connect, Clinic Connect and Community Connect, all which assist in enrolling and tracking patients and their data throughout the healthcare community. The company's name reflects its connecting role among the Orange County Safety Net, a collaboration of health-based programs serving the uninsured and underinsured in the region. SafetyNet Connect is a company created from the partnership between Internet and software solutions provider NetChemistry, Inc. and ELM Technologies - both which have a rich history of providing software that enables collaboration between hospitals, insurance companies, managed care organizations, third-party administrators, physician groups and public sector health plans. For more information please visit www.safetynetconnect.com.
About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America's leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, contact ravi.x.poorsina(at)kp.org.
About Long Beach Network for Health
Long Beach Network for Health (http://www.lbnh.org) is a non-profit organization created in 2003 as a health information exchange (HIE) in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. As a public private collaboration of physicians, hospitals, health care organizations, and patient advocates, LBNH is committed to improving the quality and continuity of healthcare for area residents through the improved access and use of relevant clinical data. LBNH technology is provided by MedPlus through its Centergy health information exchange solution and Initiate Systems' Identity Hub for master patient index. For further information, please contact Laura Landry at 562-436-2923 or llandry(at)lbnh.org.
About Redwood MedNet
Redwood MedNet is a nonprofit organization established in Ukiah, California in 2005. The founding members of Redwood MedNet are physicians and information technologists working in private practice, community clinics, emergency departments and public health. The goal of Redwood MedNet is to help our region become a center of excellence in improved patient health outcomes through the adoption of appropriate information technology. For information, please contact Tanya Laino, 707.462.6369, tlaino(at)redwoodmednet.org.
About Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange
The Santa Cruz Health Information Exchange is one of the oldest and most advanced in the country. The clinical network connects more than 600 healthcare doctors and staff including a large IPA, two local hospitals, the County Health Clinics, two national and two local reference labs, two imaging centers and several FQHC safety net clinics. More than one million web transactions occur each month on the Exchange as well as tens of thousands of new electronic prescriptions, electronic refill requests, pre-treatment authorizations, referrals and transcribed documents.
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