Hixny Builds Patient Portal with HealthShare
Hixny, a regional health information exchange (HIE) and an InterSystems customer since 2009, is improving care coordination and population-health management through its Hixny360 services structure.
• Fastest path to software for connected healthcare
• Sharing patient data across multiple facilities
• Leveraging technology that healthcare organizations already use
Serving the Capital District, northern New York, and the Mohawk Valley region, Hixny has also introduced a secure, user-friendly patient portal, Hixny For You, that allows patients to view, download, and transmit their own medical records.
Hixny has been leveraging InterSystems HealthShare® as its strategic interoperability platform. HealthShare, a family of connected-care products, includes HealthShare Personal Community, a configurable patient-engagement solution. Branded as Hixny For You, it provides a comprehensive patient record and an alternative to costly portals tethered to electronic health records (EHRs). Hixny’s patient portal is available community-wide across multiple systems and drives adoption in a way that couldn’t otherwise be achieved.
A New York Presence
Hixny today has 564 connected entities and locations. Its 31 member hospitals represent 100 percent of the hospitals in its region. Also part of the exchange are 2,121 physicians — 73 percent of the region’s primary care physicians and 62 percent of its specialists. The HIE processes the records of more than 2.6 million patients.
Hixny’s services to members are comprehensive, with the portal delivering more than 88,000 lab, radiology, and transcribed reports per month. The organization announced in May 2015 that it was sending 20,000 patient-event notifications per month into EHRs, which represented a tenfold increase over the previous year. The event notifications inform primary care physicians about changes in a patient’s condition or care, such as emergency department visits or hospital admissions.
In 2014, local pharmacy service providers Price Chopper Supermarkets and Hometown Healthcare joined the exchange, which means that physicians can now ensure that patients have filled their prescriptions there. And the information flow is bidirectional: Providers can retrieve and contribute realtime patient data directly into their native EHRs.
Hixny For You gives patients access to their own health records, which they can download to their computers or securely send to providers. Also on the portal is a robust digital library of medical information to help educate patients about their medical conditions.
Hixny CEO Mark McKinney says the organization decided to create the portal for three reasons. First, he says, it was far more cost-effective for his exchange to build the portal than for each hospital to do so at a cost of about $100,000 each.
“Sick people see a lot of doctors. Without a single patient portal, they would have to go to every portal and aggregate data themselves.”
Hixny CEO Mark McKinney
Second, it’s better for patients, designated caregivers, and providers to access the information via a single online gateway. Patients with chronic conditions may see as many as 14 different providers. “Sick people see a lot of doctors,” McKinney explains. “Without a single patient portal, they would have to go to every portal and aggregate data themselves.”
Finally, a patient portal is an added incentive for providers and provider institutions to contribute data to the exchange.
McKinney notes a few challenges. First, he says, to meet the Meaningful Use Stage 2 requirements for EHRs, he had to build a new system interface and obtain full buy-in from IT departments across the network.
More significant was the patient identification issue. How could he be sure that the right people had access to the right records?
The solution was to initially restrict use of the portal to patients recently released from five community hospitals. The limited rollout enabled Hixny to establish a process for verifying patients’ identities before releasing the tool more widely. For the future, Hixny will leverage partnerships with a large credit union and a pharmacy chain to help establish a patient’s unique identity.
Path to Triple Aim
McKinney sees both Hixny and its Hixny For You as critical links on the way to meeting the famed Triple Aim of improving patient care, improving population health, and reducing the cost of healthcare. The portal will lessen the extensive records-management burden on patients and their families. To illustrate the benefits of the portal, Hixny cites the example of Jay Stearns, caregiver to his 84-year-old father, William. “The portal has been instrumental in helping us to keep track of my father’s records and medications,” Stearns says in a Hixny video, recalling the huge stack of file folders he used to carry to doctor visits. Now he just logs in from his cellphone to access all of his father’s records.