Pioneers in EHR use to create data exchange model

By Healthcare IT News
08:55 AM

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.

Individually, each of the five member organizations have been health care electronic information pioneers — each site already proving the value of health IT for their own patients. Electronic medical records specific to each care setting are improving the quality of care for patients with chronic conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, and asthma today, as well as providing the best care in emergency situations. Collectively, the goal of the consortium will be to take the practical steps needed to actually link needed data between the separate care systems and medical records.

"Each of our organizations can point to concrete examples in which information technology allowed us to develop new knowledge, facilitate decisions, improve safety, efficiency and coordination of care, and offer the best treatment for the patient," said John Noseworthy, MD, president and chief executive officer, Mayo Clinic. "This collaboration will demonstrate what is possible when a unique union of forces is brought to bear on this multi-faceted challenge: realizing the promise of health information technology for patients across the nation."

Members of the Care Connectivity Consortium have a clear vision that the same benefits of the full medical information that exists in each of our systems should be extended to all patients by connecting all communities and the nation in order to improve health care for all Americans. The collective goal is to implement first generation CCC interoperability tools over the next year, in a manner consistent with national health IT standards. The consortium partners are already clear leaders in health IT implementation — all are committed to sharing experiences with the health care community to improve care delivery and outcomes for all patients in America.

"As part of our continuing efforts to improve the coordination of patient care, whether for our patients or those who choose to see other providers, Group Health is pleased to partner with these exceptional care systems to provide the ability to share clinical information," said Scott Armstrong, chief executive officer, Group Health Cooperative. "Our hope is that this partnership will grow and help accelerate the implementation of a national health information exchange, leading to better care for everyone."

"With more than 40 years of extensive experience in health IT, Intermountain Healthcare has been able to use clinical systems to promote evidence-based best practices that improve patient outcomes. Our consortium partners join with us in having a clear vision for developing IT solutions and standards," said Charles W. Sorenson, MD, president and chief executive officer, Intermountain Healthcare. "Together, we are advancing how health IT can be used to improve care while lowering overall health care costs to the communities we serve."