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Surescripts Network Expands EHR Interoperability at Point of Care

The expanded Record Locator & Exchange network helps providers improve patient clinical care delivery through EHR interoperability.

ehr interoperability surescripts record locator & exchange

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth Snell

- Improving EHR interoperability by allowing providers to more easily access and exchange patient records remains a top priority at the health information network.

Surescripts enabled four million clinical records exchanges over the last three months of 2017, the organization announced earlier this week. More than 51,000 physicians nationwide utilized Surescripts Record Locator & Exchange interoperable network in 2017, with 26.4 million documents on patient point of care were exchanged.

Surescripts CEO Tom Skelton explained that healthcare professionals need to be able to “locate and exchange patient records to make safer and better informed care decisions.”

“The progress achieved across the Surescripts Network Alliance in 2017 marks a critical milestone in advancing the nation’s interoperability goals outlined by ONC in the Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap,” he said in a statement.

EHR companies, pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs), pharmacies and clinicians, and an increasing number of health plans, long-term care and specialty pharmacy organizations are part of the Surescripts Network Alliance, which sees approximately 13 billion transactions each year. 

Citing data from Sutter Health, Surescripts explained that its Record Locator & Exchange is one of Sutter’s top clinical document trading partners and accounts for approximately half of its total non-Epic patient link sources.

Of the nearly 50 percent of patients with new external clinical documents available, 30 percent of clinicians acted on drug-drug and drug-allergy interaction alerts by modifying or cancelling the prescription, Sutter Health data showed.

Recent additions to the Surescripts Record Locator & Exchange include the following health systems:

  • Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
  • Denver Health
  • Martin Health System
  • Ohio State University Medical Center
  • Yale New Haven Health

“Surescripts Record Locator & Exchange is a key component of our interoperability strategy,” Sutter Health Clinical Informatics Director for Privacy, Information Security and Interoperability Steven R. Lane, M.D. said in a statement. “It gives us the advantage of automation and the opportunity to use the Carequality framework, which immediately expands our access to records from those past care encounters.”

The Surescripts network uses the Carequality Interoperability Framework, which helps the data sharing process through its common set of legal, technical and policy rules.

In February 2018, Carequality reported that more than 600,000 healthcare providers utilize its trusted health data exchange framework to enable network-to-network connectivity.

Over 2.4 million clinical documents are exchanged per month through the Carequality framework, with regional health information exchanges (HIEs), record locator services, and EHR vendors all participating.

Additionally, more than 50 percent of healthcare providers use the Carequality framework, the organization reported. The network has more than 1,000 hospitals, 25,000 clinics, and 580,000 healthcare providers.

“Carequality’s success stems from the core principles of inclusivity and openness we laid out during early planning meetings,” Carequality Vice President Dave Cassel explained in a 2017 statement. “We brought together competing vendors, providers large and small, HIEs, government agencies, pharmacies, and other types of healthcare organizations, allowing everyone to be heard.”

“Open conversation and debate was encouraged, and we embraced transparency and openness in all processes,” Cassel added. “As a result, we created a national interoperability framework that works, nationwide.”

EHR interoperability is an increasingly hot topic in the healthcare industry, and the ONC Interoperability Roadmap can be a critical tool to help organizations of all sizes securely and quickly exchange patient data.

In 2017, ONC requested stakeholder feedback to inform the 2018 Reference Edition of the Interoperability Standards Advisory (ISA). Updating the Roadmap, implementing enhanced testing, and making further investments in improving health IT standards were recommendations from the American Medical Informatics Association (AMIA).

ONC should create a supplemental roadmap dedicated only to standards and the relationship between standards, AMIA said in its 2017 letter to ONC. The agency should also address which standards are phasing out of use and where the industry is headed in terms of developing new ones.

“ONC should convene and coordinate discussions that identify important use cases to identify what standards are needed and in what combination to ensure interoperability,” AMIA explained. “Thorough testing remains an unrealized aspect of our nationwide approach to standards. Very few standards undergo rigorous testing at the development-level or at the implementation-level. Both are critical if interoperability is to occur.”

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