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RHIO Picks Two for Integration

July 1, 2006
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Tallahassee, Fla.-based Big Bend RHIO has contracted with two local technology integration vendors to help link healthcare providers in the area.

Big Bend RHIO — which plans to cover over 700,000 people on the eastern half of the Florida Panhandle — has chosen Pensacola, Fla.-based Cogon Systems, Inc. and Tallahassee-based Innovations, LLC, to provide system development and a demonstration pilot for its Tallahassee Regional Health Information Network project.

Initial participants in the RHIO are Tallahassee Memorial Hospital and Capital Regional Medical Center. "Those are just the first ones to give us test feeds and come live in production," says Dan Kaelin, M.D., chairman of the board for Big Bend RHIO, "but the intent is to cover this whole region electronically with all providers and all institutions."

He says the primary issue when deciding on vendors to help with the project was not just finding those with the experience and technology to handle the job, but finding vendors that promised the flexibility to allow for change when necessary. Also, finding local vendors that knew the lay of the land was a big plus, Kaelin says.

"This is kind of a brand new market going across the country, so it's important to have the flexibility to be able to mold and change as we grow. Some of the vendors that we looked at have a pretty good track record of interfacing different software programs... but they are big enough companies that they don't have, at least on the surface, the flexibility to change course," he says.

That flexibility is important, Kaelin says, because there are a number of unsettled questions in the RHIO space. The first of which deals with how states are to interact when dealing with border populations and the second concerns whether a federated or centralized technology architecture is the preferred model.

"That's where the flexibility of the vendor comes in," he says, "They need to be able to handle both a system that says, 'I just want to show you the information on demand,' and handle one that says, 'I want to show you all the information I have all the time.’”

Author Information:

Anthony Guerra

Bonita Shelar CCS-P is payment services manager, MaternOhio Management Services.

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