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Orion Health: Integrating healthcare's data exchanges

August 1, 2007
by root
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Formed in 1993, Orion Health, Inc. focuses on clinical information sharing by providing integration among disparate information systems and electronic information exchange between different health organizations.

Orion Health, #77 on the 2007 Healthcare Informatics Top 100, has its global headquarters in Auckland, New Zealand, and its North American headquarters in Santa Monica, Calif.

For the past several years, Orion Health's Rhapsody has ranked #1 or #2 on the "Best in KLAS" integration engine rankings produced by the Orem, Utah-based KLAS Enterprises. The recent release of Rhapsody's version 3 includes greatly increased transaction throughput, clustering capabilities and automatic documentation of interfaces, explains John Lightfoot, CTO.

"Typically with interface engines, there's only one person in the basement who actually understands it. If and when they leave, it's very hard to pick up the pieces. Between Rhapsody's ease of use and automatic documentation, it's now easy for someone else to pick up what was done."

Plenty of hospitals use Rhapsody, and the product is playing a strong role in several large messaging projects conducted by the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), including BioSense, a biosurveillance project.

"The CDC is collecting data from hundreds of hospitals, translating it into a common data format so that the data can be analyzed for public health reporting. With the latest version of Rhapsody, they can handle millions of messages per day," Lightfoot notes.

Rhapsody is also helping smaller facilities and health departments get on board with electronic data reporting and clinical applications, adds Megan Tobin-Jones, vice president of marketing.

"Rhapsody is a quick, easy and cost-effective solution for hospitals, since now they don't have to buy another piece of hardware to run it," she says.

With the growth of HIEs and RHIOs, hospitals need to share data with other hospitals, referring physicians, government agencies and regional health initiatives, she adds.

"In order to provide the best patient care, hospitals can't remain silos of information. However, most hospitals and practices don't have extensive internal IT staff and resources."

While Rhapsody provides the back-end tools for quick and easy information exchange, Orion Health's Concerto Physician Portal provides front-end integration, creating a unified view of patient data to support clinical decision making.

Concerto now integrates all the clinical workflow tools once referred to as the Soprano suite, enabling the creation of a seamless suite of clinical applications accessible from one place.

Workflow tools include clinical documentation, an EMPI, disease management software and a clinical data repository — all were developed to meet customer requirements for low-cost solutions without requiring the replacement of existing systems.

"Over time, we've gathered a pretty comprehensive suite that covers most of what hospitals, IDNs and HIEs need, and you can mix and match what you'd like to deploy," Lightfoot explains. "So, whether you have existing information systems in place or not, we can help bring your data and your applications together into one comprehensive, easy-to-use view of patient data."

Orion Health has offered a CCOW (single sign-on and context sharing) solution for years, but clients have begun to demand greater interoperability and new ways of viewing data, Lightfoot adds.

"We feel that CCOW is helpful, but does not meet all of our customers' needs. They like being able to get onto multiple applications, but that's not enough. They really want a more unified view of the patient record, where all the data can be seen in one place, where it's actionable and leads to better patient outcomes."

Clear, hard-working interfaces that "play nice" with other vendors also are crucial for clinical workflow, since smaller facilities, especially in public health, can't afford the "rip and replace" model of IT growth, he adds.

Orion Health's multiple project relationships with the CDC have primed the company's credibility for increased expansion into the public health markets —it already has more than 17 state health departments on its client roster.

The company is also at the forefront of the growth of Regional Health Information Organizations (RHIOs). In 2007, Orion Health landed the contracts for the statewide RHIO projects in Vermont and Maine, adding them to its list of RHIO endeavors in Australia, Canada and the UK.

Chosen by the 2007 Healthcare Informatics Top 100 editors as an "Up and Comer" company, Orion Health has more than 1,000 clients in 22 countries and hopes to reach $100 million in revenue by the end of 2008.

With business booming, the company plans to open a Boston office before the end of 2007 in order to support its rapid growth in the US market.