Electronic Health Records

Integration & Interoperability News

Michigan HIE Enables State Immunization System Queries

A health system and HIE achieved a first for health data exchange in Michigan in enabling EHR queries of the state’s immunization registry.

Health information exchange in Michigan

Source: Thinkstock

By Kyle Murphy, PhD

- A partnership between Lakeland Health System and Great Lakes Health Connect has enabled the hospital organization to become the first of its kind in Michigan to allow EHR users to query patient immunization in the Michigan Care Improvement Registry directly, the organization announced in a joint statement.

“Our clients expressed a strong desire to stay within their own electronic medical record (EMR) systems rather than jumping around logging in and out of multiple applications,” said GLHC Senior Director of Program and Technical Operations Julie Klausing. “A provider’s workflow functions more effectively when they are able to access the information they need from within their own system.”

GLHC has enabled HIE participants to transmit to electronic immunization records as a standard service. The query functionality now makes searching MCIR a native functionality within a provider EHR system.

According to the announcement, MCIR began its existence as a repository of childhood immunization records established by the state legislature in 1996. A decade passed before the registry underwent an expansion to include immunization records on all state residents.

In Michigan, license providers must report immunization data to MCIR which is in turn shared with other providers, schools, and childcare programs for public safety reasons. As noted, MCIR data “are accessible to registered users with appropriate credentials via a secure website portal.”

For Lakeland Health System, the decision to add this MCIR query function to its EHR technology is an obvious one.

“While we don’t see ourselves as technology pioneers, given our long relationship with GLHC, combined with the promise of easier access to the state immunization registry, early adoption of this patient centric technology made great sense to us,” said Vice President of Clinical Integration Kenneth O’Neill, MD.

What’s more, having a query function within the EHR technology itself represents a boon to clinical efficiency and productivity:

Prior to having the ability to query MCIR through our electronic medical record system, a provider would have to exit the EMR, launch a separate browser to get to the MCIR website, log into the database, search for the necessary information, then copy and paste it into the patient’s record back in our EMR system. This may seem like a relatively minor issue, but it interrupts the interaction with the patient at the point of care. Multiplied across many patients that can add up to significant wastes of time. GLHC’s Immunization Query functionality allows more time and greater attention to be focused on patient care. That, to me, is a home run.

The Lakeland Health System comprises three hospitals, two long-term care facilities, one outpatient surgical center, one cancer center, one hospice residence, and 34 affiliated physician practices throughout southwest Michigan. Meanwhile, scores of healthcare organizations throughout Michigan connect to Great Lakes Health Connect health information exchange, with the densest concentration of participating providers occurring around Detroit.

Elsewhere in health information exchange

The Pennsylvania Department of Human Services is making $8.125 million in grant funding available to health information organizations throughout the state to connect inpatient and outpatient settings participating in the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program via the Pennsylvania Patient & Provider Network (P3N).

Grants will vary from $75,000 to $35,000 to $5,000 and enable the following activities for HIO:

  • Help providers deliver higher quality and more efficient care, particularly through better care coordination for patients covered by Medicaid;
  • Support provider participation in private-sector HIOs by offsetting connection costs;
  • Incentivize HIOs to join the P3N, a precondition for receiving funding;
  • Support rapid movement toward the participation in eHIE, and support various care reform efforts currently underway across the commonwealth; and
  • Defray up-front costs for individual providers to join an HIO, thus helping to achieve meaningful use and satisfy obligations under the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program

"These grants will assist providers in the efficient delivery of quality services to the individuals we serve across the commonwealth," said DHS Secretary Ted Dallas in a public statement. "As more providers participate, individuals will experience better coordination of care and a better quality of health care."

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