Top 5 videos from HIMSS17
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Top 5 videos from HIMSS17

The time has come to stop ignoring the inability for doctors to know where a patient last received care.

The case for care continuity standards

By Chris Nerney
08:07 AM
Connected patients

Electronic health records and healthcare information exchanges typically include an incredible amount of detail regarding a patient’s condition, medical history and treatment.

But too often EHRs and communications fail to clearly identify health facilities where patients previously have been treated — and that’s causing problems for healthcare providers and medical researchers.

“We need to start working toward standardizing this information,” says Brian Dixon, a research scientist at Regenstrief Institute. “The electronic messages being exchanged between all the various systems we’ve implemented over the past decade don’t do a good job of identifying where that healthcare activity took place at a granular level.”

Knowing where a healthcare activity took place “is really important if you’re an accountable care organization trying to analyze a large data set in a data warehouse, or if you’re doing health information exchange in your community and want to look for patterns of care delivery, where people are getting their care and what kind of outcomes they’re getting in different places,” Dixon says.

Dixon is slated to present a one-hour education session at HIMSS15 titled “Identifying Health Facilities Outside Your Enterprise” that will cover the scope of the challenge facing health organizations that exchange data for care coordination, meaningful use and population research and analysis.

Dixon intends to explore the results of a study in one health information exchange in which more than 6 million records were examined for facility identification.

Strategies for improving facility identification in electronic transactions also are on the session agenda, including the current state of standards.

“There are some available,” Dixon says, “but none of them are perfect for doing this, so we’ve got more work ahead of us.”

What’s more, creating a workable facility identification system and standards will require input from many stakeholders.

“Healthcare providers need to engage in this conversation, standards development organizations, entities like the Office of the National Coordinator,” Dixon explains, “they all need to work together to support this because we’ve largely ignored the problem.”

Dixon’s “Identifying Health Facilities Outside Your Enterprise” session is scheduled for April 13 at 11:30 a.m. in Room S100A during HIMSS15 in Chicago’s McCormick Place. 

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