Healthcare IT Interoperability, EHR interoperability, Hospital Interoperability

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Two MA Hospitals Make Health IT Interoperability Investments

Two Massachusetts hospitals are looking to advance their health IT interoperability capabilities with strategic technology investments.

- UMass Memorial Health Care and South Shore Hospital are touting recent health IT investments to bolster hospital interoperability. The former in fact made two in August.

Health IT interoperability advancements in MA

The health system headquartered in Worcester first signed an agreement with Agfa HealthCare to improve health data exchange of imaging results.

The four-hospital system will begin deploying six imaging technologies this fall ranging from enterprise imaging solutions for cardiology radiology to an imaging exchange and vendor-neutral archive (VNA).

All imaging technologies are anticipated to become fully operational by the close of 2017.

According to the health system's head of radiology, health IT integration will speed up its provider information sharing capabilities.

"We needed to address the evolving imaging informatics needs of our health care system," Max Rosen, MD, MPH, said in an official statement.  "After an extensive evaluation of clinical and technical capabilities, we chose Agfa HealthCare's Enterprise Imaging solution. We were specifically pleased with their contemporary technology platform as well as their workflow, and clinical / educational collaboration tools.  It's a good fit for our caregivers and most importantly our patients."

UMass Memorial also struck a deal with Google Ventures-backed PatientPing Partners to enable the exchange of real-time data for patients receiving care from providers outside its four walls.

"The relationship between PatientPing and UMass Memorial showcases our stance as an innovator that adopts technology that we know will improve care coordination efforts for both our patients and our caregivers," said CEO and President Eric Dickson, MD. "This is an exciting time in health care, and we are thrilled to be at the forefront of the conversation in Massachusetts."

According to the joint announcement, the technology in question sends alerts in real-time from other organizations using the service and enables point-of-care providers to receive pertinent patient care instructions.

Meanwhile farther east in Massachusetts, South Shore Hospital has completed an implementation of a MedAptus EHR interoperability solution for improving inpatient charge capture documentation within its enterprise MEDITECH EHR platform.

The decision by the subsidiary of South Shore Health System eliminates the manual capture of patient data use for reimbursement. The charge capture solution is operational in the hospital's inpatient, observation, and emergency room units.

"As I know too well, hospitalists are extremely busy, typically working 12-hour shifts and managing upwards of 15 patients at a time so any technology aimed at our specialty must be highly intuitive and actually leverage existing systems," said MedAptus Chief Medical Officer Ryan Secan, MD, MPH. "Many customers have told us that our EMR and EHR interoperability has been game changing in terms of gaining rapid physician buy-in so we feel a strong sense of satisfaction that we can deliver this kind of value to hospitals such as South Shore."

Other health IT interoperability news

Lockheed Martin has secured a contract from the Department of Veterans Affairs to modernize and maintain the latter's enrollment health benefits determination system. Valued at the $33.3 million and spanning more than three years, the Transformation Twenty One Total Technology contract should leads to veterans having improved access to their medical records and enabling them to make well-informed health decisions.

"EBHD will help Veterans and their families obtain high quality benefits in a timely manner, which is part of the Veterans Affairs strategy to increase the ease and convenience of the benefits enrollment process," said Lockheed Martin's Horace Blackman of the company's health and life sciences division. "Through this important modernization effort, we will help the VA realize targeted, personalized care for Veterans and their families."

The VA has long struggled with advancing the interoperability of its EHR platform VistA, a focus of recent Congressional scrutiny.

In a July hearing convened by the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military Construction, Veterans Affairs, and Related Agencies, Senators Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Jon Tester (D-MT) criticized the federal agency’s lack of EHR interoperability in being unable to exchange diagnostic images like x-rays or CT scans and therefore incapable of enabling providers to view a patient's longitudinal record and provider the most appropriate care possible. Additionally, Kirk and Tester were dismayed at VA’s lack of EHR progress in comparison to private technology vendors.

To improve its interoperability with the Department of Defense, VA has made recent updates to a presolicitation for health information sharing professional and technical services.

Dig Deeper:

Health IT Interoperability in Stage 3 Meaningful Use
Value Remains a Problem for Health Information Exchanges

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