Beginning with Stage 2 Meaningful Use, eligible professionals and hospitals are required to meet certain thresholds for health information exchange in order to achieve meaningful use. A common knock against the EHR vendors has been that their EHR systems are closed off or incapable of such exchange. While these systems and the integrated delivery networks (IDNs) that use them certainly face a significant challenge in exchanging health information with outside organizations using different EHR solutions, the Epics and Cerners of the world are already making strides progress toward both HIE and true data liquidity.
In this installment of the CIO Series, we caught up with Stephen Beck, MD, FACP, FHIMSS, who serves as the CMIO of Catholic Health Partners. In the first of this two-part interview, Beck explains the healthcare system’s progress in implementing its Epic EHR as well as enabling its various clinical settings and providers to exchange health information inside and outside Catholic Health Partners.
What progress has Catholic Health Partners made implementing Epic Systems?
We’re rolling out a system-wide electronic health record — CarePATH, powered by Epic. We’re completely rolled out in all of our ambulatory practices, a couple hundred office locations. We’re approaching a thousand physician-owned providers in addition to affiliated provider practices we allow to use our electronic record. On the inpatient side, we’re 50 percent implemented in our acute care facilities. We started our initial go lives about three years ago. From all statistics, we’re one of the most rapid implementations ever. We do have paper in some of our facilities and other electronic systems as well. Getting to one system or database system-wide is really what’s going to improve healthcare for all of our communities. We’re absolutely convinced of that.
What system limitations need to be addressed next to improve care coordination using health IT?
Our next direction is to continue to leverage these tools to those who aren’t inside our system or when patients get transferred from other providers not owned by the system. We plan to smooth out transitions of care and receive data from outside electronic records. Stage 2 Meaningful Use is pushing us in that direction, but meaningful use isn’t the reason we do this. It’s really the right thing to do for patients. The challenge in the past has been related to vendors being a little skittish about sharing their information and database structure. Standards for sharing data that have been around for a long time, the problem has been the process of implementing those standards.
What has Epic done to promote exchange of health information between providers?
We use their Care Everywhere product, which allows us to exchange information with other Epic users. In the State of Ohio, where a majority of our patients reside, we have a tremendous number of Epic clients, so it’s a great opportunity. For example, we have Ohio State in Columbus, Cleveland Clinic in the Cleveland market, and in the Cincinnati market all of the health systems are now using Epic. That’s great. However, there are still all those outside organizations to integrate with.
How are you as an Epic customer pushing back to get wider exchange of health information?
This year in their certification for Stage 2, Epic released more data on their plan to successfully expand their scope of data exchange. I sit on the Care Everywhere Council and that’s where individual organizations across the country continue to have an open ear of Epic both in development and how we can manage this tool and make it better. All of us have been keenly aware: We’ve got to be able to speak with foreign systems and exchange information better. I truly believe it’s going to be the vendor-to-vendor communication that’s going to make this flow work.
Read the second part of this interview on the relationship between patient satisfaction and the use of EHR and health IT.