Making the Health Information Exchange a Two-Way Street

August 8th, 2016 - New York State says Article 28 hospitals have to contribute data through the HIE by March 9, 2017. But that’s not the only reason they should.

Every hospital has them: the so-called “frequent flyers” who visit different emergency departments (EDs) regularly, often for non-emergency care. Multiple hospitals hold their patient records. There are also patients with multiple chronic illnesses who may go to different EDs with real emergencies. Their medical records are held in silos as well. These difficult cases are the poster children for why hospital clinicians need access to patient records through a Health Information Exchange (HIE)—and why it is so important for hospitals to contribute data to share with each other when caring for the same patient.

How hospitals benefit...

As healthcare delivery moves toward value payments, “the business case for contributing data keeps getting stronger for hospitals,” Galanis notes. She points to Medicare’s plan to bundle payment for coronary bypass surgery and heart attacks, as well as a new Medicare pilot to fix payments for hip and knee replacements. Medicare also penalizes hospitals for preventable re-admissions within 30 days. In New York State, the DSRIP (Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment) program requires Performing Provider Systems (PPS) to use the HIE to coordinate care for Medicaid patients.

The HIE also can help hospitals reduce the burden of uncompensated care. Many of the “frequent flyers” in emergency departments remain uninsured, and sharing information electronically with other EDs can limit the expense and save time.

“Even if you ask another emergency department to fax the patient’s records to you, you have to sift through pages of records,” Galanis says. “Compare that to calling it up on your screen and going immediately to the data you need.”

Galanis adds that it is easier for hospitals to continuously contribute data through the HIE than to fax records to another institution when requested. Also, hospitals can use HealthlinkNY to send alerts to a patient’s provider when the patient presents at the emergency department, possibly avoiding a hospital admission.

“Think of HealthlinkNY as a secure communications channel through which the medical community can collaborate on care,” Galanis says. “The more data hospitals contribute to it, the more likely we can achieve the national triple aim for healthcare: better care, lower costs, and a better patient experience.” 

Now, hospitals face a deadline to make the HIE a two-way street. The New York State Department of Health is requiring Article 28 hospitals to contribute a minimum data set to the HIE by March 9, 2017. As the nonprofit Qualified Entity (QE) operating the HIE in this region, HealthlinkNY is actively working with hospitals to make that happen. At this time, HealthlinkNY is able to establish a bi-directional connection and subsequent support without cost.

 

“Hospitals keep a trove of patient information that is absolutely essential to share with other providers, whether they are other hospitals, non-hospital affiliated physician groups, skilled nursing homes, or behavioral health specialists,” explains Christina Galanis, president and CEO of HealthlinkNY. “We need every hospital to contribute data for the HIE to be truly effective,” she adds.