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Moving Forward on Image-Sharing in Colorado—CORHIO’s New Thrust

March 13, 2014
by Mark Hagland
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Colorado’s CORHIO is moving forward on a statewide platform for diagnostic image-sharing

The Colorado Regional Health Information Organization (CORHIO) has been moving forward on numerous fronts. Already, more than 1,900 office-based providers, 47 hospitals, and 126 long-term and post-acute care facilities are now connected to each other  via the Denver-based health information exchange (HIE).

What’s more, CORHIO was one of 16 HIEs in the Midwest and Rocky Mountain States announcing in February that they were coming together as the Mid-States Consortium of Health Information Organizations.

As the Feb. 19 press release noted, “A key premise in the establishment of the Mid-States Consortium of HIOs [health information organizations] is that critical health information must be available to physicians and other healthcare providers at the point of care, regardless of the location where a patient needs care.” And in that collaboration, CORHIO has been a key player. Indeed, Jeff Messer, director of outreach and development for CORHIO, said in a statement in the press release, “The members of the Mid-States Consortium are committed to addressing the most difficult data exchange issues confronting health information organizations today.”

Back in Colorado, CORHIO leaders continue to move forward in their core work, including work to go live with the sharing of diagnostic images across the HIE. In this, they have been partnering with professionals at the Atlanta-based GNAX Health, to facilitate diagnostic image exchange. Recently, Brian Braun, CORHIO’s chief financial officer and corporate operations officer, spoke with HCI Editor-in-Chief Mark Hagland regarding the progress being made at CORHIO on a number of fronts. Below are excerpts from that interview.

What’s the latest in terms of the reach of CORHIO’s activities?

Right now, we have 47 hospitals that are part of the network; a little over 1,900 office-based providers associated with hospitals; about 126 long-term care facilities connected to our network; and about 3.2 million unique patients’ data is in the HIE.

Brian Braun

How long has CORHIO now been live and operating?

We started in full force started in 2010. As far as connecting, we started connecting in 2011.

What kind of volume of data exchange are you at now?

Since 2011, over 125 million messages have been exchanged. That encompasses ADT messages, lab reports, radiology reports, transcribed notes, anything.

Are you live yet with diagnostic images?

We’re not live quite yet. Of course, we get the radiology reports and the study numbers, but our goal was to connect radiology reports and images, and allow physicians to stay within their workflow and click on a link in GNAX. That’s the project we’ve been working on with GNAX. We are finalizing the technological structure for that. Our vendor is [the Salt Lake City-based] Medicity, and Medicity is working on the technical solution for that, so it’s in process.

How long will the process have been for bringing this live?

We started on this probably last summer; and in terms of imaging, the imaging project was just getting kicked off. And GNAX has started putting images into the VNA [vendor-neutral archive] that are accessible for exchange and sharing. No sharing is going on yet.

When will the sharing begin?

Our goal is to be up and running on the actual sharing, where an office-based provider can basically link to an image in the VNA, based on a radiology report that we’re already sharing from the hospital, by late this summer. That’s the solution we’re working on for late summer.

So, this is complicated?

Yes, definitely. We did some high-level architecture work with Medicity and GNAX last summer; but we put it on the back burner a bit until GNAX got live on images in the VNA, but they had images flowing into the VNA by January of this year.

What are the challenges involved in creating links like this?

That’s a good question. We have a community health record through Medicity; and like any software platform, it requires special linkages. So building that link into the platform so there can be a call-up to an image repository and a viewer, that’s the challenge. It’s not highly technical, but it requires workflow work with teams. Technically, it’s very feasible; the real challenge is the project management element in this, getting this built into a platform, that’s always a bigger project.

What have the preliminary learnings been so far around how one optimizes the sharing of images?

Part of it is getting both technical teams from both organizations—in this case, Medicity and GNAX, plus us as the managing this—so it’s really four teams involved—Medicity, GNAX, CORHIO, and the Colorado Telehealth Network—it’s really about getting all the people concerned in the same place, and talking together. And there’s nothing earth-shattering about that, is there? Also, getting the technical teams to get a grip on what needs to happen. And I believe that the key to all this is making it easy for that provider, the end-user, to do this, so they don’t have to go to a separate system, so it stays within their workflow—that’s the essence of it. And what we’re trying to do is to leverage our infrastructures.