14 critical access hospitals link to Nebraska HIE

By Bernie Monegain
10:33 AM

Within the past month, 14 critical access hospitals have joined the Nebraska Health Information Initiative (NeHII), Nebraska's statewide health information exchange.

Powered by the Axolotl HIE platform from OptumInsight, NeHII electronically delivers clinical information at the point of care, integrating a wide variety of patient clinical data including laboratory results, ER reports, discharge summaries, radiology reports, progress notes, transcription, medications and other medical information.

The hospitals that recently joined NeHII are:

  • Antelope Memorial Hospital, Neligh
  • Avera Creighton Hospital, Creighton
  • Avera St. Anthony's Hospital, O'Neill
  • Chase County Community Hospital, Imperial
  • Cherry County Hospital, Valentine
  • Community Hospital, McCook
  • Community Medical Center, Falls City
  • Community Memorial Hospital, Syracuse
  • Lexington Regional Health Center, Lexington
  • Memorial Health Center, Sidney
  • Perkins County Health Services, Grant
  • Plainview Area Health System, Plainview
  • Providence Medical Center, Wayne
  • Tri Valley Health Center, Cambridge

"Memorial Health Center is committed to providing the highest quality care possible, from the latest in technology and equipment to electronic information accessibility," said Kelly Utley, Memorial’s chief financial officer. "Being able to exchange health information electronically between providers is the latest step toward achieving that high quality. We are very excited to be a part of this information exchange because it keeps our hospital on the leading edge, not only in the state of Nebraska but in the country."

Small hospitals may be certified as critical access hospitals to help implement initiatives to strengthen the rural healthcare infrastructure. The Medicare Rural Hospital Flexibility Program was established in 1997 to promote regionalization of rural health services in the state and to improve the quality of healthcare and access to hospital and other health services for rural residents of the state.

Among other requirements, critical access hospitals (CAHs) must be located in rural areas separated from other hospitals by at least 35 miles or less in mountainous terrain or areas with only secondary roads available, and are required to provide emergency services 24 hours per day. Nebraska has among the most CAHs in the nation, with 65.

Physicians working with the HIE-linked CAHs will have secure access to electronic exchange and share clinical patient information and medication history with other hospitals and healthcare providers across the state who care for their patients.

"This is a thrilling announcement for Nebraskans,” said NeHII Executive Director Deb Bass. Because of the extensive rural populations in the state, the CAHs play a critical role in the delivery of quality healthcare. With the CAHs participation in NeHII, they will be able to retrieve information on their patients returning from larger referral health systems across the states. With the implementation of health information technology and telehealth, there will be opportunities for the patient to remain at the CAH and recover in familiar healthcare settings surrounded by their families."