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Texas Health Information Exchange Receives EHNAC Accreditation

The Greater Houston Healthconnect received EHNAC accreditation, showcasing its ability to safely and securely transmit PHI in the health information exchange.

By Sara Heath

A Texas health information exchange has received accreditation from the Texas Health Information Exchange Accreditation Program (TX-HIEAP), recognizing its exemplary handling of PHI when exchanging health data across disparate technologies.

The Greater Houston Healthconnect primarily serves Southeastern Texas, including 23 counties and 6.8 million people, 133 hospitals, and 14,000 physicians. According to a public statement, Healthconnect serves 51 percent of the hospital market and 39 percent of regional physicians.

Healthconnect’s accreditation was conducted by TX-HIEAP in affiliation with the Electronic Healthcare Network Accreditation Commission (EHNAC) and the Texas Health Services Authority. As one of the highest levels of accreditation, this honor recognizes Healthconnect’s high level of performance, business processes, and resource management.

Overall, EHNAC’s assessment indicates a high level of health IT interoperability and health data security measures.

According to Healthconnect executives, achieving this accreditation helps motivation the HIE to maintain those data security efforts.

“Our commitment to protecting health information exchanged through the HIE is our number one priority, and drives us to be very vigilant about data privacy and security,” said Nick Bonvino, CEO of Healthconnect. “Maintaining accreditation helps us to achieve that.”

This accreditation reportedly demonstrates the high level of HIE Healthconnect conducts, ideally helping them with further expansion to help build its repository of health data.

“Increasing confidence and trust is vital to expanding health information exchange across the state,” said George Gooch, interim CEO of the THSA. “By achieving accreditation, Greater Houston Healthconnect is validating its commitment to maintaining the highest standards in the electronic exchange of health information.”

Just over one year ago, Healthconnect saw that kind of expansion when St. Joseph Medical Center, Houston’s older hospital, joined the HIE.

"With Healthconnect we are able to extend our impact beyond the point of discharge so our patients may rest assured their vital information can follow them wherever they go," SJMC Mark Bernard explained in a public statement. "And our emergency room team can better ensure patient safety by viewing prior information about a patient’s existing health status, medications and allergies. It’s an important new service available to the St. Joseph community."

This advance comes as the healthcare industry is experiencing issues tapping HIEs. In a recent report from Black Book, over half of provider respondents blamed EHR and health IT vendors for lacking HIE and interoperability.

Likewise, these providers are blaming lacking health IT and interoperability standards for HIE difficulties.

“The misalignment of requirements and protocols has hampered all the stakeholders’ interoperability efforts,” said Black Book’s managing partner Doug Brown in a public statement. “This disorder is ushering in a new replacement revolution, this time for those HIEs failing to meet the expectations of their users, payers and providers alike.”

That said, industry experts are still working to implement better health IT interoperability. Nearly 94 percent of respondents reported plans to help create or bolster a statewide or intrastate HIE, similar to Healthconnect.

Providers are looking for HIEs that align well with their practice needs, including better care coordination and better exchange of health data that will enable patient-centered care.

“The value-based payment reform concept enabled by a robust HIE requires all stakeholders including physicians, insurers, post-acute care, and diagnostic facilities, not just hospitals to reach the goals of dynamic population health,” Brown explained. “Focused, private HIEs also mitigate the absence of a reliable Master Patient Index and the continued lack of trust in the accuracy of current records exchange.”




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