Bridging the Continental Divide of Electronic Medical Records

Date: January 16th, 2013Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, EHRs, Colorado Healthcare Leaders

CORHIO and QHN have exchanged “live” data, taking the first step toward helping patients get better care and giving physicians more timely and complete access to critical information.

CORHIO and Quality Health Network (QHN) are working jointly on a trailblazing project to link their two fully functional HIE technology platforms. When completed, the entire state will have a cohesive and comprehensive source of health information exchange to improve patient care.

Two Regional Systems, One Vision of Statewide Connectivity
Most states have more than one regional health information exchange (HIE), and Colorado is no exception. The first HIE to develop in Colorado was QHN, which is based out of Grand Junction serving the Western Slope. QHN has been fully operational since 2004 and has focused on advancing HIE in the western parts of the state. Starting in 2010, CORHIO began offering HIE services to providers in communities along the Front Range, Eastern Plains and some of the mountain towns.

So why the need for these two HIEs to connect? There are times when a resident on the Western Slope may need specialty care in the Denver area. Or a resident on the Front Range may visit Aspen on a ski trip, have an accident and need emergency care. Sometimes the patient is unable to speak and could have a life-threatening medication allergy or other medical issues they can’t explain to the physician. In these scenarios, having two separate systems of patient information in the state is not ideal. This is why the QHN/CORHIO connection is so important – it will give providers across Colorado access to information on patients they don’t normally care for, which could help save lives.

Starting With Newborn Screening Results
In the summer of 2012, CORHIO and QHN began working on connecting data in the two HIEs. First, CORHIO and QHN have successfully delivered newborn screening results from the state between the two HIEs. Specifically, CORHIO has sent newborn screening results from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to QHN, and QHN has successfully sent the data along to a participating provider.

Next Steps for Cross-State Integration
The second function being tested focuses on patient referrals. When a provider on the CORHIO network refers a patient to a provider on the QHN network (and vice versa), this data is being sent back to the referring physician. This will close the referral loop and ensure the referring provider knows the outcome and can provide patient follow up as needed.

Third, the two organizations are working on identifying providers who could benefit from accessing patient information from the other network’s virtual, or community, health records, which allows providers to see a patient’s complete longitudinal health history. Additionally, CORHIO is sending data to QHN for distribution to QHN participants from front range hospital systems that have relationships with providers in western Colorado.

“The partnership between CORHIO and QHN is critical to improving patient care in our state,” said Larry Wolk, MD, CEO of CORHIO. “We are thrilled that the integration of data between the two organizations is moving forward.”

“This is a very exciting project for us,” said Kelly Joines, VP, HIE Program Operations for CORHIO. “Once our two HIEs are connected, it will mean better coordinated care for Coloradans, which is why we do what we do.”

Moving Forward
Upon completion of this first phase of the project, CORHIO and QHN will begin working on bi-directional delivery of health data, for full HIE to HIE integration.

“The development of the infrastructure for a robust statewide HIE will be instrumental in improving the quality, safety, and effectiveness of health care from which all Coloradans will benefit, “said Dick Thompson, CEO and Executive Director of QHN. “With QHN’s performance history and current development and deployment of population health management tools, paired with CORHIO’s critical participant reach, we have the potential to create a unique HIE model for others to emulate.”

“Colorado has long been a leader in HIE," said Liza Fox-Wylie, the State Health Information Technology Coordinator, "and this development in the partnership between CORHIO and QHN is an essential step in building a more integrated health system that truly focuses on the health of individual patients, families, and communities regardless of where in the state they call home.”