Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kentucky, Healthbridge partnership 'tip of the iceberg' for health data sharing

The Kentucky Health Information Exchange, St. Elizabeth Healthcare and Healthbridge are successfully sharing patient information. The partnership, says Trudi Matthews, director of policy and public relations for HealthBridge, is just the “tip of the iceberg” in terms of connecting healthcare providers and sharing patient information in Kentucky and healthcare markets in bordering states.

Connecting to St. Elizabeth Healthcare, one of the largest healthcare providers in the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky region with six facilities and 62 physician practices, represents a significant milestone for KHIE towards achieving connectivity throughout the state. St. Elizabeth Healthcare is also one of the first participants of HealthBridge, which was founded in 1997 and is one of the largest and financially sustainable health information exchanges in the U.S.

[See also: HealthBridge data exchange gives boost to e-prescribing, diabetes registry]

St. Elizabeth Healthcare didn’t want to duplicate its HIE activities with KHIE, so now as data flows to HealthBridge, the HIE sends a copy of the feeds – with appropriate filters in place – to KHIE, Matthews said. Authorized healthcare providers can securely access critical patient information in order to make timely, better-informed decisions.

KHIE uses a query model, enabling emergency department physicians, for example, to search and receive a matched summary of care record with health information from Medicaid and healthcare providers such as St. Elizabeth Healthcare. KHIE now has the capability to receive and send patient information from St. Elizabeth Healthcare to other participants of the statewide HIE.

For HealthBridge, this partnership also represents a significant milestone. HealthBridge serves a healthcare market that spans three states – Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. It is already connected with the Indiana HIE and four other HIEs, including HealthLINC, based in Bloomington, Ind.

[See also: HealthBridge offers HIE advice]

“This is a perfect microcosm for inter-state exchange,” Matthews said, of the partnership. “This effort is going to grow over time.”

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) funded connectivity among KHIE, HealthBridge and St. Elizabeth Healthcare through its State Health Information Exchange Program and Beacon Community Program. ONC selected the Greater Cincinnati-Northern Kentucky community as one of the 17 ONC-funded Beacon Communities. St. Elizabeth Healthcare is participating in the Greater Cincinnati Beacon Collaboration.

HealthBridge is also connecting with the Nationwide Health Information Network. It has already installed Direct and Connect, as additional means for connectivity with other exchanges. “There’s still a lot of work to do with standards to make it [connectivity] easy, but we’re showing it can be done,” Matthews said.

[See also: Kentucky health data exchange kicks off e-prescribing initiative]

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