Pioneers in EHR use to create data exchange model

Five health systems, each a leader in the use of electronic medical records for their patients, joined together today to announce a new initiative to securely exchange electronic health data, with the first data exchange planned in the next year.

Electronic medical information is one of the most important care support tools available in world health care today. That tool works much better when the caregivers for a single patient can connect electronically. These leading care systems have created the Care Connectivity Consortium to pioneer the effective connectivity of electronic patient information in an approach that protects patient confidentiality.

Collectively bringing together both the latest technology and a shared mission to deliver patient-centered high-value health care to the citizens of this nation, Geisinger Health System (PA), Kaiser Permanente (CA), Mayo Clinic (MN), Intermountain Healthcare (UT), and Group Health Cooperative (WA) today announced the creation of an interoperability consortium. The consortium will utilize standards-based health information technology to share data about patients electronically.

"Five of the nation's premier health care providers have decided to form this consortium to help lead the health care discussion in this country with this unprecedented health IT collaboration created to deliver high-quality, patient-centered care," said Glenn Steele, Jr., MD, PhD, president and chief executive officer, Geisinger Health System.

The goal of the consortium is to demonstrate better and safer care with better data availability. Patients will benefit. If a patient from one system gets sick far from home and must receive health care in another system — or if any system sends patients to another — doctors and nurses at each of the consortium systems will be able to easily and quickly access invaluable information about the patient's medications, allergies, and health conditions, allowing them to provide the right kind of treatment at the right time and avoid unintended consequences like adverse medication interactions.

"This collaborative effort exists because we all have reached the same important conclusion about linking and sharing patient-specific data," said George Halvorson, chairman and chief executive officer of Kaiser Permanente. "Our five organizations share the common mission of improving health care in the United States and our belief is that when doctors have real-time data about patients, care is better and more effective."

The five health systems believe that achieving electronic health information interoperability and connectivity will be a critical next step in the United States becoming a 21st century, information-enabled health care system. With patient privacy and security as overarching priorities, the Care Connectivity Consortium's goal is to demonstrate that effective and timely health information exchange using the latest national IT standards is possible in a secure environment and among geographically disparate health care providers.