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Rush Health to create HIE to better integrate hospitals, physicians


By Kristen Schorsch, Crain's Chicago Business
Posted: January 14, 2014 - 12:15 pm ET
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With nearly 1,000 physicians and three hospitals using a variety of different electronic health records, Rush Health is creating a hub to better integrate the network as the healthcare industry is being encouraged to deliver better but less expensive patient care.

Chicago-based Rush Health, whose members include Rush University Medical Center in Chicago and hospitals in west suburban Aurora and Oak Park, Ill., has signed a five-year deal with Bellevue, Wash.-based Caradigm USA LLC to create a private health information exchange, Rush Health announced today.

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Rush Health President and CEO Brent Estes called the health information exchange the “largest investment that Rush Health has made” in its roughly 20-year history. He said the effort will cost several million dollars but declined to be more specific.

The goal is to better coordinate the care of patients, from annual physicals to emergency room visits to nursing home stays, as hospitals are being penalized for such things as readmitting patients too soon and can receive financial incentives to keep patients healthy.

“Now that we're moving away from the fee-for-service environment and more organizations are getting involved in accountable care or population health, the importance of bringing that information together so that you're managing the patient appropriately, providing the right type of care in the right location at the right time, becomes pretty important,” said Henry Soch, vice president of the Center for Clinical Technology at Skokie-based health care analytics and consulting firm Sg2 LLC.

One of the main challenges will be to get physicians to use the health information exchange once it's launched, he added.

Caradigm, an 18-month-old joint venture between GE Healthcare and Microsoft Corp., will provide software that will essentially aggregate clinical and financial information from the various electronic health records Rush Health physicians and hospitals now use.

Physicians will be able to see a patient's medical record in near-real time to help them decide the best course of treatment. For example, physicians treating a patient in the emergency room at Rush-Copley Medical Center in Aurora could look up the patient's primary care physician, see her medication list to prevent prescribing a conflicting drug, and view recent laboratory tests to help reduce duplicate testing.

The effort will help Rush Health bolster its quality and performance measures as well as guide efforts that may lead to shared savings with insurance payers for keeping patients healthy.

“We want to use this infrastructure to connect and exchange real-time information so we can do a better job coordinating (care),” Mr. Estes said.

Rush Health member physicians will be required to use an electronic health record system. About 10% of physicians have yet to sign up for one, Mr. Estes said.

To help physicians cover the cost, Rush Health will pay for the first year of implementing and training on an electronic health record system with any of three vendors: Verona, Wis.-based Epic Systems Corp., Westborough, Mass.-based eClinicalWorks, or Watertown, Mass.-based Athenahealth Inc. Mr. Estes said the tab will be about $12,000 per physician.

Rush Health also plans to link the health information exchange to a similar regional exchange being developed by the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council, a hospital trade group.

Rush is Caradigm's first client in the Chicago area, said Steve Shihadeh, senior vice president of sales and customer operations. He declined to provide revenue figures for the private company.

"Rush to create information hub to better integrate hospitals, physicians" originally appeared in Crain's Chicago Business.


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