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Health Information Exchanges

Connecticut hospitals pilot fi rst statewide HIE

The Web-based HIE is being delivered by eHealthConnecticut and the state’s Department of Social Services through a grant of more than $1 million from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services.

By Tony Ryzinski C

onnecticut’s fi rst health information exchange (HIE) moved recently from inception into pi- loting when a network of hospitals and clinics began sharing patient data as part of a project that will connect several federally qualifi ed health centers to the exchange.

Among those participating in the pilot project is Staywell Health Care of Waterbury, Conn., one of two qualifi ed health centers in the state, participating in part because the clinic is one of the few to have adopted electronic health records (EHR). The clinic moved to an EHR in July 2009.

eHealthConnecticut’s current mission is to implement and sustain a statewide HIE to improve healthcare quality, safety and effi ciency for Connecticut’s residents.

“This program will make models of the clinics involved in the program. We’re ready to join in and be a model for health information exchanges; we’re ready to show how this can be done,” says Lule Tracey, chief fi nancial offi cer of Staywell Health Care. The health information exchange is Web based and being delivered by eHealthConnecticut and the state’s Department of Social Services through a grant of more than $1 million from the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services. The exchange will link information in clinics and hospitals with electronic systems currently in place, at which point patient data will be entered and accessible to the healthcare community. Staywell’s Tracey says the obvious push behind the program is to move the state, and eventually the entire healthcare system, to an electronic format. Staywell Health Care, which hosts 80,000 patient visits per year, is in the process of ridding its offi ce of all paper records,

24 September 2010

saving the clinic about 35 percent of the annual chart and offi ce supplies budget. Additional benefi ts to the clinic as a result of the EHR include increased quality of care and the ability to proactively track patient information, analyze trends and better manage charts and outcomes specifi cally related to diagnosis and treatment. Having the HIE in place will create more effi ciency for providers in the state and make for a simplifi ed approach to practicing medicine, says Tracey.

“The HIE is an innovative concept, but this is the way business is now conducted; healthcare should be no different,” Tracey says. “We live in an electronic, instant- access society, and people have come to expect us to be able to provide their health information to doctors or hospitals wherever they are. “A person’s health record can save their lives so it’s wonderful to see we’re moving beyond the traditional delivery system and into an instant-access world.” The eHealthConnecticut pilot program will collect

and exchange patient information, including patient allergies, medications, laboratory results and physician notes.

The decision to participate in the HIE is voluntary, but if it increases clinical effi ciency, offers a quicker


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