The largest participant in the Health Information Exchange of Montana, Northwest Healthcare, recently completed a pilot implementation of a single-source solution to consolidate patient data from existing clinical information systems in medical facilities throughout a 45,000 square-mile area in western Montanacovering a population of more than 135,000with the goal of improving quality, reducing duplication of effort, and facilitating communication across treatment settings.
No. 4: Northwest Healthcare
Consolidated, without waste: Pilot project gives Montana HIO a single-source solution to patient data
The six hospitals and several affiliated clinics making up the areas healthcare system began with disparate healthcare information systems on various platforms and in different locations. Northwest settled on a three-pronged approach to resolve these problems. First, they began building a fiber-optic infrastructure throughout the region to support the exchange of healthcare data across the geographically dispersed healthcare system. Next, they contracted with a new technology vendor for a secure, aggregated healthcare data repository to integrate vital clinical information from their disparate systems into a unified patient healthcare record. And finally, they will be expanding the solutions base aggregation platform with clinical communication, disease management, clinical workflow, and forms and notes capabilities to improve the efficiency, effectiveness, and quality of care delivered.
The first pilot of the program at Northwest, which is based in Kalispell, Mont., took seven months to complete. While it is up and running, the information exchange is still finalizing the phases of implementation.
The projected cost the information exchange is between $300,000 and $350,000. There were 2.5 full-time employees committed to this project. In addition, numerous other employees, including the interface engineer, clinical informatics staff, the policy procedure committee, network analyst, marketing staff, public relations staff, and trainers collaborated on this project.
Some of the manpower required was in relation to workflow and its impact on day-to-day activities in the facility. Additional resources needed by the information exchange were mostly physical resources, specifically, over a dozen interfaces.
The information exchanges vendor solution developed a phased implementation approach that first integrated existing healthcare technology into vaulted data with patient matching capabilities, allowing the segregation of source data by participant while also enabling a unified healthcare record to be generated for a patient at any of the facilities. Once the aggregation phase is complete, strategic additions of workflow enhancements and disease-management functionality will be rolled out to fill gaps in data, enhance clinical communication, and remind and alert the clinical team to abnormalities, preventive treatment and contraindications associated with patients in view.
As a result, Northwest will have the following capabilities:
- Comprehensive medical information at emergency department presentation allows for expedited assessment and treatment of ED patients, reducing length of stay and, potentially, hospital admissions.
- Reduction in duplicate diagnostic testing.
- Reduction in costs because of improved service leverage and the elimination of manual patient data transmissions.
- A single point of access for all clinical information within six months.
- Wellness and disease dashboards integrated into a communitywide electronic health record help manage chronic diseases.
The solution is currently being rolled out to the hospitals ED, relieving physicians of the need to log on to five or more different systems to accumulate information on a patient. With a single view of patient data from the various treatment settings in the area, physicians will be able to prepare for a patients arrival at the ED and better coordinate follow-up care.
The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 will be highly favorable to the information exchanges initiative because it requires meaningful use of EHRs to qualify for financial incentives. Clearly, this would extend to streamlining patient data from disparate sources into a single, unified record. This system also adds value to long-term investments in healthcare information technology by spanning existing systems to improve the clinical value of current technology, reduce costs, increase interdepartmental communication and improve the quality of care.
Candy Deruchia Bunten
Director of healthcare IT
Send us a letter