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Overcoming Interoperability Issues in Wisconsin

August 22, 2011
by David Raths
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Are joint venture IT departments the wave of the future?

With so many hospital systems and physician groups across the country struggling to share patient information between disparate systems, one novel idea is to create a joint venture IT department that sits outside both organizations.

That is what Dean Clinic and SSM Health Care of Wisconsin did in 1999 when they created Wisconsin Integrated Information Technology and Telemedicine Systems LLC (WIITTS).

I recently had a chance to interview Dave Lundal, vice president and regional chief information officer of SSM Health Care of Wisconsin and Dean Clinic, for an article in LEAD IT, a publication of Paragon Development Systems Inc.

"The unusual thing about WIITTS is that we created one electronic health record across both organizations rather than interfacing two separate instances, and we created one organization to support it," Lundal told me. He likes being positioned between the two organizations. "We are aligned with the patient," he says.

WIITTS has helped Dean Clinic and SSM Health Care of Wisconsin hospital employees rethink how to prioritize health IT projects. "As we started getting more hospitals and clinics up on a shared record, we decided they really needed to start governing the record," Meghan Hendricks, director of shared services, told me. The shared services group set up regional workgroups around topics such as scheduling or the patient portal.

This patient-centered view of data may position both organizations well for the accountable care organization movement. The full text of the story is available here.

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