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Catholic Health Initiatives Embarks on $1.5B Enterprise HIE

June 12, 2012
by Jennifer Prestigiacomo
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More than 100 facilities in 19 states to use universal health record

Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI), the nation’s second-largest Catholic healthcare system based in Englewood, Colo., today announced it has chosen health information exchange (HIE) and healthcare integration solutions provider Orion Health (Auckland, New Zealand) to enable physicians and clinicians to access and exchange patient information, coordinate patient care, and update patient records throughout its 100 facilities in 19 different states.

CHI, made up of 76 hospitals, 40 long-term and assisted care facilities, two community health-services organizations, two accredited nursing colleges, and various home health agencies, will use Orion Health HIE as the cornerstone of its $1.5 billion OneCare program to create a shared, universal health record. “Now we’re filling out the portfolio so that everything that we touch will be electronic,” says Michael O’Rourke, senior vice president and CIO, CHI. “There won’t be charts carried around any longer.”

“This has been the thing we’ve struggled with around IT in the healthcare industry, how to get all this information [together],” adds O’Rourke. “The health information exchange allows us to have a tentacle that goes out to different partners where we can gather that information without having to be owner and guardian of everything, and yet we can pull a full medical record together for folks that are not necessarily in our network.”

Michael O’Rourke

The HIE will be instrumental in linking up the many key clinical products in use at CHI, says O’Rourke. CHI, like many healthcare systems around the nation, has a ‘crazy quilt’ of clinical information systems with most of its smaller hospitals and critical access hospitals (CAHs) using Meditech (Westwood, Mass.), its larger hospitals using Cerner (Kansas City, Mo.), and its ambulatory facilities on Allscripts (Chicago).

CHI’s private HIE will give clinicians affiliated with the CHI health system a holistic view of a patient’s medical information. The HIE will offer access to up-to-date patient information and will enable clinicians to securely share patient information across all facilities in CHI’s care network, improving continuity of care.

CHI’s implementation strategy will involve interfacing those markets that have all “workstreams,” as O’Rourke calls them, ready to go, first. That means the markets that will be linked first will have all clinical content across all organizations standardized, and all facilities updated to the appropriate versions of their clinical information systems. Des Moines, Iowa will be the first market piloted, and had its kick-off last week. All of the area’s 66 clinics are on the latest Allscripts version, and its acute care facilities have had the latest Cerner update.

A dedicated HIE team of close to 70 people will be traveling market to market to create a culture of readiness, and then will interface each area. The Kentucky market will be the next to be connected, and personnel from Kentucky will be on the ground in Iowa to record learnings for their upcoming go-live. Nebraska will follow thereafter. “What we’re trying to do with all these deployments is have the next group come in and experience what happens,” says O’Rourke. “You can also validate then from the next site, how many of the lessons learned get incorporated, and what new learnings we found.”

CHI will also leverage its HIE to connect to several state exchanges in its service area and the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN), which aims to create a countrywide connected care network of the nation’s healthcare facilities and organizations. CHI expects to complete the implementation of its HIE by June 2015.
O’Rourke foresees the big challenge with all this to be creating the enterprise master patient index (EMPI) that will attach all records at different sites of care to a single patient. “That’s a huge challenge for the whole industry,” he adds. “The opportunity we have is to bite it off a market at a time.”