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New SHIEC Member Supports Behavioral Health Data Exchange

Recent advancements in health data exchange include support for behavioral health exchange at SHIEC and a Texas HIE extending patient EHR access to local EMS units.

Health Data Exchange

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- The Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) recently extended membership to Reliance eHealth Collaborative to expand the initiative’s support of behavioral health data exchange.

The health information exchange is a community-based network designed to support communities in Southern Oregon. Reliance has expanded to cover a majority of Oregon as well as areas of northern California and southern Washington. The HIE is publicly available for any healthcare organization interested in securely sharing information to join.

"SHIEC's strength lies in the diversity of our membership, and I'm very excited to welcome Reliance into our group," said SHIEC interim executive director Pam Matthews. "Reliance has been doing some really interesting work with incorporating behavioral health and substance abuse treatment into their HIE ecosystem.

“We anticipate this trend continuing as HIEs support providers and their community with transitions of care and chronic care management activities,” Matthews continued. “By working with HIEs who are already pioneering this field, other SHIEC members can learn from Reliance's experiences as they expand their services into this area."

SHIEC functions as an open forum for participating HIEs to share ideas, learn from each other’s experiences, and collaborate on initiatives of interest to promote the advancement of secure health data exchange across the healthcare industry.

"Operating an HIE is not easy work, but when done right, it dramatically impacts patients' experiences in clinical settings," said Reliance eHealth Collaborative executive director Erick Maddox. "It's very important we get this right, and there's always something to learn from our cohorts at other HIEs. SHIEC is a collaborative, noncompetitive environment where HIE's can share what they've learned.”

SHIEC’s membership assists in improving health data exchange for hospitals, healthcare providers, and patients spanning over half the U.S. population. With the addition of Reliance, SHIEC now includes 50 HIE organizations.

The opportunity to pool ideas and jointly address challenges to health IT and data exchange fuels the collaborative’s continued growth.

“We've all had similar experiences and challenges with implementing health IT technologies, deciphering regulations, keeping customers satisfied, you name it,” said Maddox. “It's really helpful to have a community of like-minded people with common goals who understand what you're dealing with and who are willing to help each other on issues big and small.”

Texas HIE improves health data exchange for EMS personnel

Earlier this year, the Rio Grande Valley Health Information Exchange (RGVHIE) launched an initiative to improve health data exchange and communication between Emergency Medical Services (EMS) units and hospitals.

RGVHIE will enable hospitals and EMS to exchange patient information at the point of care.

"Basically by accessing patients' medical records, they'll be able to provide better clinical decisions and ultimately save lives,"Trauma Regional Advisory Counsel member Dr. David Luna told ValleyCentral.com

Presently, EMS providers in the area lack the technology to retrieve and access patient EHRs from local hospitals due to existing interoperability barriers.

"The problem is the systems don't talk to each other," said RGVHIE executive director Andrew Lombardo. "You have one person using a system, and another using another system. They fax each other the information, which defeats the purpose."

With the connection enabled through RGVHIE, EMS will be able to send hospitals information such as patient vital signs in real time. Hospitals will have the opportunity to learn about a patient’s current condition before the patient arrives to the facility, and EMS personnel will have access to a patient’s medication history while providing on-site emergency treatment.

"Imagine the EMS being able to find out the patient's medications they may be on," said Luna. "Any allergies, any surgeries, any conditions that can help make a decision and relay that to the emergency rooms so they'll be ready."

This HIE connection was made possible through a $500,000 grant awarded through the Legacy Foundation.

Improved information access and exchange could improve patient health outcomes during EMS encounters for several counties in the area.

"Our goal is to connect all the hospitals in our region, so that no matter where you go, whether from here to McAllen or Laredo, you'll have that information available to you," said Lombardo.

To date, all but two area hospitals are participating in the RGVHIE program.

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