The April medication history service launch in the busy Washington, D.C. suburb ED marks the first project milestone for the Northern Virginia Regional Health Information Organization (NoVaRHIO) based in Alexandria, Va. Established in 2007, NoVaRHIO works to facilitate the availability of accurate and timely electronic health records with the goal of improving the health status and healthcare of those who live and work in northern Virginia.
Now, Inova Alexandria Hospital ED clinicians can quickly access a patient’s prescriptions information, no matter where in the U.S. they were written, enhancing care quality and safety. Until now, achieving multi system (semantic) interoperability using data from disparate sources and seamless workflow integration into an electronic health record (EHR) was not possible. This provides a foundation for extending to a full information exchange through the use of Continuity of Care Documents (CCD) and is a step toward meaningful use of electronic health records (EHRs) and health information technology as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
During the initial weeks of service operation, close to 90 percent of patients seen in the ED at Inova Alexandria Hospital consented to having their medication history accessed electronically by the medical staff, demonstrating confidence and a growing recognition of the value of health information exchange (HIE). By year end, NoVaRHIO estimates that more than 20,000 patients will have benefited from this technology. Ensuring that treating providers have a current and accurate medication list for each patient is not only part of the standard of care, but it also helps reduce adverse drug interactions and duplicate prescriptions. For patients who are elderly, incapacitated at the time of admission, or taking multiple medications, the availability of this information can potentially improve their treatment.