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Cerner, Epic EHR Hospitals to Share Patient EHRs in NC

A recent agreement to share patient data between two North Carolina health systems will connect Cerner and Epic EHR technology.

Patient EHRs

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health recently reached an agreement to exchange patient health data between their Cerner and EHR technologies in an effort to improve care coordination for patients receiving care at either facility.

Carolinas HealthCare operates Carolinas Medical Center as well as over 40 additional hospitals. Novant Health’s network includes Presbyterian Medical Center and 13 other hospitals.  The two nonprofit organizations are the largest healthcare systems in the Charlotte region.

Carolinas HealthCare and Novant Health use Cerner and Epic EHR technology, respectively.

The exchange of patient health data will occur through Cerner’s health information exchange and the Sequoia Project’s eHealth Exchange, a Cerner spokesperson confirmed. The agreement — effective immediately — will improve quality of care by enabling providers to access portions of patient medical records from either healthcare system.

“What used to take days or weeks to receive patient information from another health system will now be near instantaneous,” Chief Information and Analytics Officer for Carolinas Healthcare Craig Richardville told The Charlotte Observer.

The partnership between Carolinas Healthcare of Charlotte and Novant Health in Winston-Salem covers nearly 9 million patient records.

Patient health data including demographic information, test results, diagnoses, and visit summaries will be included in the exchange.

The rival healthcare systems entering into this agreement signals a shift away from former competition surrounding patient health data sharing in favor of improving clinical efficiencies.  

Enabling patient health record exchange will also reduce readmissions and duplicated tests and procedures, ultimately saving money for patients and reducing expenses for hospitals.

Novant Health and Carolinas Healthcare voluntarily opting to share patient information follows in the footsteps of the CommonWell and Carequality agreement of late 2016.

The two initiatives signed on to mutually expand their networks and advance interoperability by promoting standardized health data exchange.

CommonWell first agreed to implement the Carequality Interoperability Framework consisting of a specific set of legal terms, policy requirements, technical specifications, and governance processes.

Participants of CommonWell gained the ability to submit directed queries to access health data in Carequality-enabled systems, such as Epic.

Next, Carequality and CommonWell developed a Carequality-compliant version of CommonWell’s record locator service and offered it to Carequality-enabled systems.

Finally, CommonWell and Carequality’s parent organization, The Sequoia Project, adopted these interoperability and data exchange activities and further pursued opportunities for collaboration between the two initiatives.

Promoting interoperability and health IT standardization through collaboration fosters a healthcare environment open to health data exchange connections between rival vendors and organizations.

Prior to the agreement, Cerner championed CommonWell while Epic exclusively supported Carequality.

The agreement served to push the healthcare industry closer to true interoperability and mitigate health data hoarding by competing companies.

Quelling competition surrounding health data exchange encourages vendors and organizations to instead set their sights on expanding their health data management solutions and services.

Since the agreement, CommonWell has continued to progress, gaining 14 members to expand its services across the country by developing new application programming interfaces (APIs) in an effort to achieve ubiquitous interoperability.

For its part, Novant Health now offers patient monitoring technology to assist in improving the quality and cost of care.

Earlier this month, Novant Health joined a group of other healthcare organizations as users of Epic’s patient monitoring technology Healthy Planet.

Healthy Planet was developed according to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) requirements requiring hospitals to offer EHR access to patients and providers.

The solution was developed to lower costs for patients and hospitals through improved care coordination, optimized quality of care, and reduced financial risk.

Novant Health officials stated the connection to Healthy Planet equips providers with retrospective, real-time, and predictive analytics.

Additionally, the solution will provide Novant Health with risk scoring tools, chronic disease and wellness registries, operational reports, operational reports with clinical drill-down, and quality measurement. 

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