Danville, Pa.-based Geisinger Health System is a natural lead for a regional health information organization (RHIO). The large integrated delivery system, which serves 2.5 million people from a 31-county region in central and northeastern Pennsylvania, is a healthcare IT leader.
As an early adopter of electronic medical records (EMRs), Geisinger had a solid foundation. A three-year, $500,000 per year matching grant from the Agency for Health Research and Quality kick-started the project, which includes two other health systems. But $3 million dollars is not much money for such a project, notes Frank Richards, chief information officer.
To stretch dollars, project leaders needed not only to consider how best to share data, but how to do it most cost-effectively. So, when Geisinger started looking for a master patient index (MPI) product, Richards says it made the most sense to leverage the existing Sun SeeBeyond interface engine from Sun Microsystems, San Diego.
“Although we didn’t do a formal RFP, we looked at a number of different companies, but aggregating data to a new database added significant cost,” he says. The lack of national standards for aggregating data in a standard format on the back-end has forced Geisinger to build a model with front-end access to the data where it resides.
Geisinger selected Sun SeeBeyond eGate Integrator and eIndex Single Patient View products with plans to build an index and point to either native data or shadowed copies. The MPI is expected to be operational by summer, at which time building the chart/record locator service will begin.
“All of this is hard,” Richards notes. “Implementation, especially for an EMR, is difficult. But the scariest thing about all the automation is that it's kind of learn-as-you-go. And there is no road map to say how it will be dealt with even 10 years from now.”