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One-on-One With Virtua Health CIO Al Campanella, Part II

December 15, 2009
by root
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In this part of my interview, Campanella says CIOs must take advantage of the Stark relaxations before they expire.

Virtua is a multi-hospital healthcare system headquartered in Marlton, N.J. A non-profit organization, it employs 7,900 clinical and administrative personnel and has 1,800 physicians as medical staff members. Virtua is an early adopter of clinical and digital technologies, led on the IT side by CIO Al Campanella. Recently HCI Editor-in-Chief Anthony Guerra caught up with Campanella to see if HITECH was changing his strategic plans.

(Part I)

GUERRA: I’d like to talk a little about HIEs, specifically working with other local health systems, like with your buddy Dan Morreale over at AtlantiCare. How do you balance the desire to interoperate and collaborate with the fact you’re often competitors?

CAMPANELLA: Well, I think it’s really important for the respective organizations to put the patient first, above the politics. None of us would want one of our patients, or for that matter a family member, to be disenfranchised by two health systems that are not willing to share information on a very episodic basis. The beauty of the HIE standards is that episodic sharing can be done. The HITSP standards that came out in July are very specific about the whole query response dynamic between HIEs. So if I can’t find Jane Smith in my HIE – if I have a partnership with AtlantiCare – then it will go out and ping AtlantiCare’s HIE, look for Jane Smith, then if she has a record there it will come back and notify me. I, in turn, can view or download that particular piece of information.

And if HIEs are done right, someone is only doing that querying because they have a specific need-to-know basis. So if your HIE has the right participation agreements, and it has the right level of auditing and monitoring to make sure usage is appropriate, then it’s really above board and people are only querying for patient information that they need. So I don’t really see an issue there.

Dan and I’ve talked several times, as a matter of fact, our teams are now actively engaged in dialogue on getting our HIEs to talk. Virtua did sign up with Wellogic, it was a coincidence, but that’s what Dan uses, and it’s written actually into my Wellogic contract that we will interface over to his, and the same is true for Fox Chase over in Philly. They use MedDecisions’ HIE and we have this formal discussion going on with them about data exchange there.

I don’t see competition as an issue, but what can be an issue, of course, is having a health system-sponsored HIE. How many hospitals participate directly when you’re sharing MPIs. Because when you have multiple hospitals on an HIE, one of the first things you do is create a common mega master patient index. In that sense, people could legally mine that data, but that’s a barrier for competitor hospitals. The way I see it moving is each hospital system — at least in New Jersey — is there’s going to be one HIE per major health system and those will, in turn, talk to each other.

GUERRA: Tell me about some of the projects you’re working on.

CAMPANELLA: Well, two days ago, we go live on the Siemens’ Soarian acute care EMR, and we are rolling that out over 18 months. It’s been a year of preparation, and now the rollout will be 18 months going forward, and we will rollout nearly every Siemens’ Soarian module. So it will be results viewing, bedside medication administration, nursing documentation, CPOE, and physician documentation. And last but not least – this is a really cool part – we will be integrating our bedside biomed devices with Soarian. So the data from bedside devices will also be transmitted to Soarian and available in the electronic record. And I think we will be probably the most integrated hospital in the country when it’s all done. I recently had a status meeting with Siemens on this exact topic, and they have no other customers that are doing this at the scale. So that’s a big project.

GUERRA: What were you on before Soarian?

CAMPANELLA: We were on INVISION Clinicals, but we did not have nursing documentation or, obviously, CPOE or physician documentation turned on. It was only just the results viewing and clerk order entry. So Soarian’s real big. We’re actually live with Microsoft’s Amalga system. However, we haven’t released it to the user base yet. We’re actually having an external firm audit the system because it’s so self-developed, and you customize basically all the interfaces into it. We’re having Ernst & Young actually audit it before we release it to the general user base, but we’re excited about that.

We’re also turning on the McKesson Horizon Patient Folder, and that system will be the repository of all transcription and any residual paper in our hospitals. So any residual paper that, for some reason, still exists despite Soarian will be scanned. We’ll have a complete 100 percent paperless environment. We also, about a month ago, turned on Sentillion’s (recently acquired by Microsoft) single sign-on. So you sign on once and that allows you to automatically get to three or four of their applications. That’s the acute side.

GUERRA: What systems will you be using Amalga to pull data from?