Jersey Health Connect is a health information exchange collaborative in northern and central New Jersey. Provider participants come from more than 25 healthcare facilities and two large physician groups. Participating stakeholders connect more than 750 physicians, 420,000 patient records and more than 36,000 patients who actively communicate with physicians in large and small practices across the region.
Healthcare reform, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act and meaningful-use criteria each have strong foundations based upon healthcare information technology. Reform goals of higher quality and more affordable care will not be met without broader and deeper information exchange, organizationally and across the U.S. healthcare system.
ARRA requires that a minimum of $300 million in grants go to support efforts to build health information exchanges that promote usage of electronic health records. Grants are available for states that demonstrate readiness for health information exchange development and regional and statewide data exchange efforts.
The Northern and Central New Jersey Health Information Exchange Collaborative, incorporated Feb. 1, 2010, as Jersey Health Connect. JHC was one of four health information exchanges to receive funds from an $11.4 million economic stimulus grant the New Jersey Health Care Facilities Financing Authority received from the Department of Health and Human Services.
Leveraging their combined expertise, JHC members share information at the point of care, when and where it is needed most. In its grant proposal, JHC outlined five goals:
- Accelerate members' current health information exchange activity and ensure health information is available at the point of care.
- Improve care coordination, access, outcomes and efficiencies through the use of technologies that facilitate real-time clinical data exchange to reduce medical errors and duplicative procedures.
- Build upon an already stable model to further the adoption of health IT and the meaningful use of electronic medical records.
- Empower consumers with their health information to encourage active and informed participation, while ensuring confidentiality, privacy and security of personal health information.
- Ensure ongoing compliance with emerging national standards and establish a technology foundation that can connect to other regional, state or national health information exchanges.
The collaboration selected a software as a service-based connectivity network as the platform for clinical network sharing. The solution enabled JHC to bypass spending on the IT base, and the software-as-a-service deployment model factored into its selection as one of New Jersey's four funded initiatives.
JHC participants do not purchase or install the technology because it resides in the “cloud,” a viable option for larger initiatives. Bypassing building or financing infrastructure meant fast platform deployment and implementation, and allowed network planning committees to move directly to clinical-use case development.
Atlantic Health System, a founding member of JHC, implemented a software-as-a-service-based connectivity platform in late 2007. The goal was to allow the 10% of its physician practices with electronic medical records to populate their systems with data directly from the healthcare enterprise, and the 90% without EMRs to collaborate on hospital-based results, testing and consult notes/discharge summaries in near real time. The solution's e-prescribing application allowed physicians to take advantage of a federal incentive that included an extra 2% in Medicare reimbursement.
Atlantic Health also wanted to widen the network to include non-affiliated physicians. Summit Medical Group, a 200-physician practice in Berkeley Heights, N.J., operates independently of Atlantic Health, but collaborated to exchange electronic results. In early 2009, Atlantic Health began transmitting clinical data to Summit Medical Group's affiliated physician offices. More than 44,000 transactions of more than 60 document types occur each month between Summit Medical Group and Atlantic Health.
Today, JHC's hospital systems and physician organizations serve 6 million people in 10 counties. Enrolled physicians can use colleague-to-colleague messaging, doctor-patient messaging, appointment requests and ePrescribing.
Between Jan. 1, 2010, and Aug. 31, 2010, health information exchange activity at Atlantic Health and SMG comprised:
- 583 physicians and 14 EMRs connected.
- 87,172 transactions (including: 16,705 secure messages; 115,914 electronic prescriptions; 432,970 lab results).
- 475,376 patients enrolled, 33,797 of them actively engaged with their physicians via messaging.
- 441,579 PHRs created automatically.
- 22,888 pharmacy renewals.
JHC provider members put aside competitive business differences for the betterment of community care. Patients benefit most from a multidisciplinary approach in which electronic access to aggregated health information is available on local, regional, and national levels.
Jacque Brodt-Suggs is ISS director for Atlantic Health and communications chair of Jersey Health Connect.