Oz Systems partners with Texas hospitals to help newborns

By Diana Manos
10:16 PM

OZ Systems announced Friday that it has implemented a new platform at two Texas hospitals to speed birth notifications and follow-up care for newborns, while supporting meaningful use.

Texas-based University Health System in San Antonio and CHRISTUS Health, a health care system that includes 13 Texas birthing facilities, have deployed OZ Systems’ electronic Newborn Admission Notification Information (NANI) messaging platform. OZ, a provider of public health information exchange, said the platform will provide a first step toward effective, secure and confidential communication among hospitals, pediatric primary care providers and public health.

Using demographics information collected in the hospital electronic health record system and the data from each baby’s hearing screening test, the information is automatically and securely sent through OZ Systems’ platform to the state’s newborn hearing screening program, OZ officials announced in a written statement.

[See also: CHRISTUS Health launches new clinical decision support systems.]

According to OZ, the new platform is the first of its kind in the public health domain and has the effect of establishing an electronic child health screening record that may grow with and serve babies from birth through childhood. It also supports a critical element for hospitals preparing for Stage 2 meaningful use certification for electronic health information exchange.

Terese Finitzo, OZ Systems CEO, explains that "hearing screening prior to discharge" is an approved Clinical Quality Measure (CQM) for Stage 2 meaningful use, a distinction, she says, that OZ Systems worked closely with the federal government to help to define. It also includes the second phase of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) set of requirements for the use of electronic health record systems by hospitals and eligible health care providers.

“Our goal here is to ensure newborn infants screened with hearing-related problems receive timely and appropriate follow-up care,” says Finitzo. “By establishing the information hub through electronic exchange, we are benefiting patients, families, public health and clinicians.”

Olga Haug, a registered nurse at University Health System in San Antonio, says using OZ NANI system is like having extra staff. “It’s so easy, now,” she says. “We don’t have to manually re-enter the information needed to provide care. This eliminates errors and is clearly one of the values of effective health information technology. When you’re ready to enter test information, the baby’s record is already there. Parents can get a record of the results.”

Technical project manager Tim Wilson of CHRISTUS Health oversaw the project to connect with NANI. CHRISTUS has more than 30 acute care hospitals throughout the South and in Mexico and has long understood the immediate care delivery ROI of providing patient information in real time.

“When we learned what OZ Systems and the Texas newborn hearing screening program were offering, we jumped at the chance, because it gave us a perfect opportunity to expand information sharing into public health reporting,” Wilson says. “All 13 of our Texas birthing hospitals are online, and if hearing screening programs in other states we serve decide to automate, we’ll have a head start.”

According to Finitzo, any birthing facility in Texas is eligible to participate in the NANI project. OZ Systems assists hospitals with implementation. To date, 63 additional Texas hospitals have taken initial steps and are testing for implementation. Nearly 50 percent of infants nationally in need of specialty healthcare following newborn hearing screening may not receive it.

[See also: CHRISTUS Health, Medicity partner for multi-state HIE.]

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