Category Archives: Interoperability

Healthcare Connections Solves A Massive Interoperability Problem

We have the technology to solve many of the world’s most threatening diseases. Why do we still struggle to make disparate EMRs “communicate” to each other? The good news is those dark days are fast coming to a sunny end.

Thanks to Healthcare Connections—important new complementary functionality from GE Healthcare—clinics who use Centricity will now be able to send and receive medical records to and from EPIC, Cerner, and other EMR vendors that participate in Carequality.
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Due to the inherent promise of better patient care, many clinics are eager to adopt this new software bridge. Currently, HealthCo is rolling out Healthcare Connections in a handful of beta sites. The second such clinic in the nation to adopt the technology is Swedish Urology in Seattle, WA. Our installation of Healthcare Connections now enables the clinic to seamlessly transfer data between their Centricity EMR and the Swedish Hospital system, which uses EPIC.

Today, patients are ultimately responsible for the transfer of any medical records from a hospital admission to their primary care physicians and specialists or by cumbersome faxing. By adding Healthcare Connections to Centricity, clinics will be able to seamlessly receive electronic transfer of patient records. Healthcare Connections takes an imperfect and labor-heavy process and turns it into a push-button process that takes seconds.

This critical new functionality is an outcome of GE Healthcare’s membership in The Sequoia Project’s Carequality initiative, and focus on improving patient care and outcomes through Project Northstar. Carequality provides a way forward by utilizing a nationwide, consensus-built common interoperability framework.

In the bold new Carequality world, patient’s charts are seamlessly integrated between systems. This is the continuity of care that physicians and patients have longed for, but haven’t had access to until now. It’s another big step toward true interoperability and value-based care. We are excited to bring Healthcare Connections to our beta testers like Swedish Urology, and to all of our clients in 2018.

Five Healthcare Trends To Monitor In 2017

It’s a new year and time to take a close look at the changes and challenges ahead. Healthcare is a dynamic field that requires constant learning and collaboration—it’s one of the things we love about it. In this spirit, the HealthCo team put our heads together and came up with five big topics that we are keeping our eyes on in 2017.

1. The MACRA/MIPS transition: Another year, another name for quality reimbursement programs. For those clinics that have already attested to Meaningful Use in the past, we see this as a seamless transition. As groups look to move into federal quality programs for the first time, there are lots of questions. Health and Human Services has a great website available to help guide your participation. Additionally, the consulting team at HealthCo is already hard at work with clients who want some additional support during this transition, and we are happy to help your team as well. If you would like to discuss how we can help, send us a quick email and we will have a consultant contact you.

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2. Will they, or won’t they…the ACA under fire: The new leadership in Washington, DC has promised a repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Repeal is easy, replacement is not. While statistics vary, most experts on the subject agree that without replacement, a simple repeal of the ACA would eliminate coverage for over 20 million Americans. What will be done to provide coverage to these individuals? This has not been explained by those looking to repeal and their answers will be the key legislative development to watch for in 2017.

3. Continued Payer/Provider Collaboration: As quality programs continue to advance, we are looking at 2017 as a year where improved care data will flow between clinics and payors, allowing physicians to provide the required care to patients at the time of treatment, improving RAF scores and quality ratings. Current GE Centricity customers are going to see Payer Provider Connect become available in 2017. It’s our answer to breaking down the walls that exist today between physician and insurance carriers.

4. Data Integrations and Interoperability make real progress: Locally, the HealthCo team is looking to build off the successful integration of Centricity and EPIC that was launched here in Portland at the Oregon Clinic in 2016. As we move into 2017 a HealthCo customer in the Seattle market is moving forward with this same integration. This effort will expand and grow during the next year. On a national level, 2017 looks to be the year that Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, or FHIR, goes mainstream, providing a new and expanded standard for the electronic exchange of healthcare data.

5. Telehealth moves from niche to mainstream: Providers continue to look for ways to more efficiently help their patients while patients want fast answers for the most common health concerns. Thankfully, technology is ready to help provide the solution. Telehealth has continued to expand in the U.S. and we are now seeing progress at the Federal level that should allow for dramatic improvement in adoption of telehealth services in Medicare programs. As provider and patient needs continue to converge, telehealth programs should grow exponentially in 2017.

As the changes to our industry continue to roll in like mysterious rain clouds, we continue to build resiliency to sudden change. Adaptability is how the species survives. I think we can say the same for ambulatory clinics and their IT providers. Together we adapt and thrive in whatever new regulatory and market environments we find ourselves in.

New Carequality Framework Provides Real Hope for Interoperability

The promise of interoperability—which is a big word for seamless data transfer across private networks—has largely been a promise unfulfilled. This is bad for business and bad for public health.

Imagine you have just been admitted to the ER for an injury. You are not a previous patient of the hospital, and your doctor is affiliated with a different hospital system across town. One hospital uses EPIC for their EMR, the other Cerner. Today, there is no chance your current medical information (including your allergies to medicine and recent medical history) will be available to the ER physician that is treating you. This scenario is worse than just bad form; it’s frightening and unnecessary.

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To help combat this persistent and dangerous problem, GE Healthcare has agreed to participate in The Sequoia Project’s Carequality Interoperability Framework. The Sequoia Project is an independent advocate for a nation-wide health information exchange. “Carequality” for short, is the group’s new public-private partnership committed to a common set of standards and specifications. The ultimate goal is a seamless transition of data across competing products and services, enabling patients to receive the highest level of care.

Right now, patient data only moves freely inside the confines of the particular technology or EMR platform. There is no national healthcare exchange. Even worse, some of the largest hospital EMR providers have adopted a defensive posture and closed off their systems, making it nearly impossible for data to be shared from clinic to hospital, hospital to clinic, or hospital to hospital.

Despite the historic shortcomings, there is plenty of reason to believe that true interoperability is within our grasp. The member organization participating in the Carequality initiative are actively building common rules, technical specifications, and participant directories to drive this new framework forward. As the work continues, GE Healthcare is pleased to be in a position to help make interoperability a reality. At HealthCo, we’re proud to be working closely with a true leader in modern healthcare IT. Putting “people before profit” is in our view not idealistic, rather, it’s the precursor to “people and profit.”