Healthcare alliance VHA this week will roll out a package of information systems and services that knits together a range of software for healthcare delivery networks and takes responsibility for integrating them all.
The initiative tackles the industry problem of managing strategic information integration projects when several vendors support the new and existing systems, and those vendors have to work together, said Dave Miller, senior director of information technology solutions for Irving, Texas-based VHA.
When it comes to integration, "nobody really takes ownership," Miller said. "If anything happens, it quickly turns into a finger-pointing contest."
VHA contracted with TRW Healthcare Information Systems to provide strategic planning and technical services associated with computer integration. The San Bernardino, Calif.-based company will work with vendors previously lined up by VHA to provide software for physician offices, clinical databases and hospital operations, Miller said.
In its first test, the service enabled Union Hospital in Terre Haute, Ind., to install information systems at four physician practices, begin a clinical data repository and work through details of integrating the new systems with existing physician and hospital billing systems, said Kym Pfrank, the hospital's vice president of information services.
Using VHA as a general contractor "took quite a bit of the pressure off us," said Pfrank. Besides providing central responsibility, the alliance of 1,750 healthcare organizations used its size to bargain for discounted consultant services, Miller said. The discounts typically lower the cost 25% to 30% below market prices, he said.
In a recent information technology survey, VHA members said their top priority was connecting information sources and providing access to integrated patient data.