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Private HIEs Used for Competitive Advantage

February 21, 2012
by Jennifer Prestigiacomo
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CIOs explain the benefits using HIE to connect physician practices and its connection to sustainability

CIOs at a HIMSS12 breakfast, sponsored by Siemens Healthcare (Malvern, Pa.) on Tuesday Feb. 21 spoke about how their organizations were developing private health information exchanges (HIEs) to link their physician practices and ultimately drive sustainability and competitive advantage.

John Glaser, Ph.D., CEO, Siemens Healthcare noted there were two models, ownership versus contractual, for healthcare integration among hospitals and community physicians. “I think the contractual model will dominant largely because of lessons learned from an integrated delivery networks years ago with serious fiascos and a lot of people lost a lot of money when they bought providers, and it didn’t turn out to be the best investment.” He noted that contracting with physician practices would undoubtedly lead to creating connections with disparate IT vendors, which makes integration via health information exchange connections an imperative.

Glaser’s company acquired the Yardley, Pa.-based HIE company MobileMD last November in efforts to diversify portfolio and allow healthcare systems connect their various practices to exchange patient information.

South Jersey Health System, a two-hospital system, sought out a private HIE solution, provided by MobileMD, to connect a 22-physician multi-specialty practice. “We need them to be automated and have great data within their offices, and we need to be able to share that data amongst the community,” said Tom Pacek, VP and CIO, South Jersey Health System. “The one thing that really made it take off in our community is we give them face sheet information.”

Pacek said that office managers, who were the true decision makers in the practices, loved
face sheets, which are summary of care documents that better coordinated the care of their patients, they were able to receive via the HIE. He also said practices liked the lab and radiology reports and the 30 and 60-day reports that allowed physicians to keep up with their patients that was delivered via the HIE. South Jersey Health System also uses the HIE to facilitate patient referrals to its fitness center with secure messaging via its Siemens EHR.

Pinnacle Health System decided to launch its private HIE (MobileMD) three years ago to be competitive among its physicians and its patients. “The key for us was that customer engagement will differentiate us from the others,” said Steven Roth, VP and CIO, Pinnacle Health System. Pinnacle Health System’s HIE tethers its four campuses with 925 community physicians in the Harrisburg, Pa. area. From the outset, Roth knew his organization’s HIE needed to be self sustaining and have a business model fueling it instead of grants. What the hospital does use grants for is up to $5,000 per practice to fund integration fees to link to Pinnacle’s HIE.

Another element that drives Pinnacle’s HIE is revenue generation through offering online order system services to long-term care facilities, senior community living facilities, and independent clinics. “We can increase our ancillary and ambulatory service delivery, i.e. labs and radiology, to be revenue generating, and that i the piece that creates the ROI around the model,” said Roth. “We had projected an 18-month ROI that [was achieved] in nine months. Since then we’ve been very successful in continuing to add specialty nursing homes that are looking for every opportunity reduce their costs.”

Pacek said his organization, too, offered a $5,000 grant for practices to connect with South Jersey Healthcare’s HIE, and these associated costs have been budgeted through board approval and are not cost prohibitive. He said other neighboring hospitals have expressed interest in piggybacking on to its HIE, which could create public funding opportunities that could aid sustainability, he said.