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RHIO & Vendor Growing Together

August 1, 2006
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The Utah Health Information Network continues to work in tandem with Columbus, Ohio-based HTP.

The Utah Health Information Network (UHIN) — a coalition of insurers, providers, and other interested parties, including state government — recently began large-scale pilot projects using Columbus, Ohio-based HTP's MedRunner to facilitate the exchange of clinical information across its RHIO.

MedRunner is a rules-based, multi-port routing platform that provides a centralized network for the exchange of clinical and administrative healthcare data. The software was developed by HTP in tandem with UHIN, according to the RHIO's managing director Bart Killian, who notes that the two organizations have been working together for the past six years.

"We consider them very much a strategic partner, and I would guess they consider us their R&D partner," Killian says. "We define what we think needs to happen — what we think has value— and they try and put that definition into an Internet-type product. So MedRunner is kind of the coalition of us and them to raise what we needed here in Utah to make our community interconnected."Bart Killian

Specifically, he says, MedRunner is Web services-constructed software that allows the RHIO to send many types of information across its network. The result is "payload independence" according to Killian, enabling UHIN to package multiple data types, including X-rays, MRIs and patient records in a "wrapper."

"We can move, we think, any kind of data between any points on our portal," he says.

Upcoming goals for the RHIO over the next six months are the ability to exchange lab results and hospital discharge summaries over the network, along with patients' histories and physicals. Following that, Killian would like to add medication histories and possibly prescriptions to the mix.

In terms of advice for his peers, Killian urges RHIO leaders to keep three things in mind: don't exclude anybody; take control of the RHIO's definition (don't let vendors define the organization); and make sure that what the RHIO does has short-term as well as long-term value.

An additional point, he says, is for RHIOs to make sure they don't get too far ahead of the community they serve. "Sometimes you can't go with the latest and greatest," Killian says, "because your end-points, your members, can't do it."

Author Information:

Anthony Guerra

J.T. Gillett is a marketing manager with Plexis Healthcare Systems, Ashland, Ore.