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Alabama HIE Joins SHIEC to Improve Rural Health Data Access

Alabama One Health Record joined SHIEC in an effort to extend HIE services and health data access to rural areas.

An Alabama HIE joined SHIEC to improve health data access for rural healthcare organizations.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) recently announced Alabama One Health Record has joined its membership to improve health data access and patient care delivery for patients in rural, underserved areas.

The health information exchange (HIE) provides health data exchange services to patients and providers across Alabama and works to promote patient participation in clinical decision-making for better health outcomes statewide.

“Our goal is to expand electronic health record (EHR) utilization, care access and telehealth capabilities so Alabama’s health care providers can deliver care coordination more quickly and cost-effectively,” said Alabama Medicaid Agency Director of Health Information Technology Gary Parker. “Joining SHIEC will help us achieve our vision by expanding our access to great partners, resources and ideas from across the country.”

The Alabama Medicaid Agency spearheads a group of stakeholders from the public and private sector to collaborate on Alabama One Health Record. The organization also works closely with the Alabama Department of Public Health and state hospital groups to supplement EHR systems with data from admission, discharge, and transfer (ADT) alerts.

Alabama One Health Record also intends to integrate data from state rehabilitation services into its HIE by fall 2018.

READ MORE: HIE Use of ADT Notifications Jumped 95% Last Year at SHIN-NY

By 2020, Alabama One Health Record plans to leverage its connections through SHIEC and the eHealth Exchange to expand ADT notification use among Medicare and Medicaid service providers statewide.

The initiative will also work to improve patient health outcomes for those in underserved and rural areas. Alabama One Health Record plans to utilize HIE services to improve health data access and exchange for populations displaced by hurricanes, tornadoes, and other natural disasters.

“Alabama One Health Record is an important addition to the SHIEC community,” said SHIEC CEO Kelly Hoover Thompson. “Like many of our current members, One Health Record plays a critical role in their state by delivering health information needed to provide better care to underserved populations.”

“By working together, our HIE members are uncovering ways to better serve vulnerable populations and provide valuable support in emergency preparedness and response to natural disasters, for example,” she continued. “We all get stronger through collaboration, and together, our members are playing an important role in addressing and overcoming health disparities across the country.”

SHIEC includes over 60 member HIE organizations.

Sutter Health Again Recognized as HIMSS Analytics Stage 7 Health System

READ MORE: HIEs Consider Joining Ambitious ONC Health Data Exchange Framework

Elsewhere in health data exchange news, northern California-based Sutter Health has been revalidated by HIMSS Analytics as a Stage 7 health system, according to the Electronic Medical Record Adoption Model (EMRAM) and outpatient EMRAM (O-EMRAM).

Sutter Health has continually prioritized improvements in interoperability since implementing EMRAM/O-EMRAM by engaging in health data exchange between its own providers and those in outside health systems.

The health system also implemented an enterprise HIE platform to facilitate patient health data aggregation from multiple sources. Improving patient health data aggregation offers providers the ability to view longitudinal patient health records for better-informed clinical decision-making.

Sutter Health has also worked with local healthcare organizations operating on Epic EHR systems. The health system collaborates with local organizations to remove barriers to health data exchange by encouraging the use of notifications about patient encounters and transitions of care.

"Sutter Health’s provider network delivers clinical care to approximately one percent of the U.S. population and data interoperability is a critical attribute of our clinical integration model,” said Sutter Health Senior Vice President and CIO Jon Manis.

READ MORE: HIE Use Cuts Costs, Increases Productivity in STI Treatment

“Foundational to our quality, safety and care coordination initiatives, we continuously strive to deliver value from our investments in data interoperability on behalf of the patients, providers and community we serve,” he continued.

In 2017, Sutter Health exchanged more than 3 million patient health records.

“Sutter Health leverages one of the world’s largest EMR implementations to facilitate an exceptional use of electronic medical records, supporting over 25 acute care sites and more than 200 outpatient ambulatory sites,” said HIMSS Analytics Senior Director of Healthcare Advisory Services James E. Gaston.

“Consistency of governance across the organization leveraging common health IT, pervasiveness of the network, and a strong appetite for leveraging healthcare data for better insights, both clinical and operational, are unique traits that have driven Sutter Health to over-deliver on EMRAM as well as O-EMRAM Stage 7 performance,” Gaston continued.

Sutter Health includes 24 member hospitals, including ambulatory surgery centers, cardiac centers, cancer centers, acute rehabilitation centers, behavioral health centers, trauma centers, and neonatal ICUs.

Surescripts Exec Outlines How Health Data Exchange Combats Opioid Crisis

Finally, Surescripts Chief Administrative, Legal and Privacy Officer Paul Uhrig recently released a new white paper addressing how health IT use and health data exchange can assist in overcoming challenges related to the opioid crisis.

Titled “Changing the Course of the Opioid Epidemic: The Power and Promise of Proven Technology,” the paper details how medication histories, EHRs, electronic prescribing, provider communication tools, and medication adherence insights can address problems with the illegal use of prescription opioids and clinical appropriateness of opioids for patients with a therapeutic need for prescription drugs.

“More people are dying in this country right now from drug overdoses than from car accidents,” said Imprivata CMO and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Emergency Physician Sean Kelly. “So we need technology and regulatory standards to help us with patient safety and curbing this epidemic.”

Specifically, Uhrig discussed how real-time medication histories about controlled and non-controlled substances can give prescribers a more complete view of a patient’s health history at the point of care to avoid adverse drug reactions and indicate cases of potential overuse.

The paper also explained how nationwide record locator and exchange services can help clinicians access patient EHRs from any care setting or facility in the US to allow clinicians to more easily identify suspicious behaviors related to opioid prescribing.

Uhrig also addressed the benefits of utilizing direct messaging within provider EHR workflows to enable communication between clinicians who have treated the same patient. 

“Technology can help fight the opioid epidemic, but only when it’s deployed and used in the course of delivering care,” said Uhrig. “In its absence, clinicians and prescribers are robbed of crucial insights and forced to forage for data manually—trying to make optimal care decisions and deliver adequate pain management without the best intelligence to do so.”

The paper also highlighted the value of real-time alerts about medication adherence at the point of care.

“Addressing the opioid crisis requires a closed-loop approach with tools that provide information, enable action, and enhance communication,” said Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center CIO John Halamka. “Surescripts has adopted the best available standard transactions to accomplish these tasks."

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