West Virginia health information exchange to expand

By John Moore
12:00 AM

The growth of a health information exchange in West Virginia's eastern panhandle could help extend the availability of interoperable health information across the state.

The Shenandoah Valley Medical System and West Virginia University Hospitals-East (WVUH-East) are working on an HIE in Berkeley Co., W.Va. The pilot program currently focuses on laboratory results, but will expand to include other care information, such as discharge notes, X-ray reports, and emergency room reports.

Shenandoah is a community health center with its physicians credentialed at WVUH-East. Shenandoah uses NextGen's electronic medical records system, while WVUH-East uses Meditech.

"What we are doing now is moving lab results," said Randy Jacobs, director of administration at Shenandoah. The health care facilities are now testing other documents, with the goal of exchanging discharge, X-ray and emergency reports.

While Shenandoah and WVUH-East continue with their local exchange, the state plans to build an interoperable statewide network. The West Virginia Health Information Network was among those HIEs awarded contracts by the Health and Human Services Department to test state links to the Nationwide Health Information Network initiative. The $2.5 million federal contract was awarded in October 2007.

West Virginia will seek a vendor to field its HIE framework, and the West Virginia Health Information Network will issue a request for proposals in early 2009, according to the organization's Web site.

Jacobs said he believes the experience gained from the local exchange will facilitate the statewide network after a contractor is selected. "We've already cut some of the barriers down," he said, noting the lessons learned from the HIE experience.