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Shaping a Trailblazing Data Exchange

January 31, 2011
by Jennifer Prestigiacomo
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One Organization is Blazing the Trail for HIEs and Showing That to Construct a Successful Exchange, You Must Invest in a Sturdy Foundation
Dr. jay naliboff of franklin memorial hospital using the healthinfonet system on his computer

Dr. Jay Naliboff of Franklin Memorial Hospital using the HealthInfoNet system on his computer, Franklin Memorial Hospital

In the past year, the health information exchange (HIE) market has exploded with new, promising exchanges. One particularly innovative HIE that caught the eye of this magazine is HealthInfoNet (HIN), Maine's statewide HIE, whose innovative approach earned it recognition by Healthcare Informatics' editors as the first HIE to be recognized as a finalist Innovator organization. HIN has a breadth and depth that most HIEs would find enviable. It currently connects 15 hospitals, one primary care organization, and close to 1,200 individual users-about 50 percent of all clinical care activity in Maine. It hopes to increase that number to 80 percent by 2014.

Wendy Wolf, M.D., M.P.H., whose organization the Maine Health Access Foundation partially funded HIN, was an early supporter of health information exchange in Maine. She remembers how impressed David Blumenthal, M.D., the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, Office of the National Coordinator, was when he came to Portland to kick off HIN's demonstration phase. “He said, ‘My gosh, I come from Boston where I'm at a hospital that can't talk to the hospital across the street, and you guys are talking to hospitals across Maine, which is as big as all northern New England,’” says Wolf.

HealthInfoNet has a fairly robust clinical data set based on the continuity of care record (CCR), which includes personal identification, allergies, prescription medication, lab and radiology results. At the present time, HIN is exchanging only printed results-diagnosis, visit history, problem lists from the ambulatory space, and other transcribed notes-with images to be shared later.

Catherine Bruno, CIO, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems (Brewer), and executive sponsor of the Bangor Beacon Community Grant, finds a particular need for health information exchange in the middle of the state where there are several different hospitals. “It's most useful because you're most likely to see information that's different than what you see in your own organization's electronic health record,” she says. “It's most heavily used in places where there are competing health care organizations.”

Cathy bruno, cio, eastern maine healthcare systems and executive sponsor for the bangor beacon community grant at the bangor beacon community launch party
Eastern Maine Health Care

Cathy Bruno, CIO, Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems and executive sponsor for the Bangor Beacon Community Grant at the Bangor Beacon Community launch party

John Vogt, a pediatrician at the 20-physician Martin's Point Health Care Center in Portland, uses HIN weekly when a patient is seen elsewhere and he hasn't received that patient's documentation via fax. “For example, a patient was in a serious MVA [moving vehicle accident] on Sunday. I learned about it 7 a.m. on Monday, and was able to go into HIN and see that he had been admitted to Central Maine Medical Center. And I could see all of the history and physicals, the operative reports, the CT, and MRI scan reports, as well as all of his lab.”


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