Single Sign-On (SSO) Transforms HIE Usage
The investments made in health information technology and functionality that improves providers' ease of access is reaping significant dividends. Quality Health Network (QHN) recently had the opportunity to ask local providers about their experience with single sign-on (SSO) and how it changes their utilization and access to information in QHN's health information exchange (HIE).

"SSO is the type of thing that you don't realize you need until you have it.  Access to a patient data repository like QHN has its own obvious benefits working in an emergency department," said Pete Dahlheimer, MD, emergency medicine physician at St. Mary's Hospital and RMC. "It saves on a GREAT deal of testing and results in overall far better patient care as most patients don't know their own history in the type of detail available in the QHN comprehensive medical record."

Study Results on HIE Access in ED are Dramatic

A recent study conducted at three emergency departments in Western New York and published by the Center for Technology Innovation at Brookings, show a significant reduction in the duplication of tests when providers and staff accessed patient health information through an HIE. Avoidable duplication of tests is a financial burden on our healthcare system and impacts patients who may be unnecessarily exposed to radiation, and subject them to longer than necessary wait times in the emergency department.

The results indicate that when additional clinical data through the HIE was accessed the number of lab tests ordered in the emergency departments studied was reduced by 52 percent and radiology exams, such as CT scans, by 36 percent. "This study was completely unnecessary. You don't need such a detailed study to show that access to more patient information will help doctors, said Niam Yaraghi, a Brookings Institution fellow who authored the study. "It is logical, like knowing that a parachute will prevent injury."  

Musings on Interoperability, Data Access and Collaboration 
As QHN celebrates more than ten years of operations, we are reflecting on where our non-profit collaboration has been - and more importantly - where our Western Colorado collaborative is going. In the commentary below, Dick Thompson, QHN's Executive Director, and first employee, provides some interesting insights on key issues facing the HIT industry.

Interoperability of electronic systems sounds so easy; after all the banks did it 40 years ago!  Adoption of electronic health records (EHR) is booming (driven by billions of dollars in incentives as well as mandates by the federal government) - with more than 75 percent of eligible healthcare professionals and 92 percent of eligible hospitals having implemented EHR systems.  

The idea of securely collecting and distributing data when and where it is needed - so that providers can work better together to improve patient care, is a solid one - and is one of the principles behind the move to electronic systems.  Indeed, it was a key aspect of the vision upon which QHN was founded in 2004.  Why is moving beyond electronic data sharing within an organization to data-sharing outside the organization so problematic.

Challenges of Interoperability are Complex

The answers can be found in many areas.  First of all, health data is by its very nature both complex as well as hard to standardize - after all, health data attempts to represent our unique human condition! Secondly, there are not just a handful of different vendors producing electronic products - there are literally hundreds of them.  The result is that in western Colorado we have data "siloed" in literally scores of different systems - each with differing data content, deployed in hundreds of unique sites, and used by a cast of thousands.  It sounds like the potential is high for the proverbial Tower of Babble doesn't it? 

First Responders Use HIE to Improve Care, Respect Patient Wishes 
Grand Junction Fire Department (GJFD) is the emergency and prevention service provider for Grand Junction, Colorado and the surrounding area. Its operation includes 5 stations, employing more than 125 firefighters and other personnel, covering a service area of 77 square miles. Health and Safety staff responded to 10,474 calls in 2014.  

Initially the impetus to explore connectivity to Quality Health Network's (QHN) Health Information Exchange (HIE) was to access patient advance directives in the system in order to prevent unwanted medical procedures.  However, the EMT supervisors have found that using the system for quality assurance purposes and training to improve patient care has provided additional value in their connection to QHN's HIE.

Utilizing HIE for Quality Assurance Program

"We have watched the physician providers use the QHN system for years and wondered why we are not also using this amazing community resource," says GJFD Health & Safety Chief John Hall. "We are very excited to be able to use the system to access advance directives in the HIE. However, we have found that using QHN for our quality assurance (QA) program to improve patient care and provide immediate feedback to responders for after-call training of tremendous benefit."

Instant Feedback Creates Instant Educational Opportunities   

The GJFD utilizes dual-role (EMS and Fire) personnel and single role personnel (EMS only) in the delivery of fire and emergency medical services. All GJFD firefighters are also trained to function in a... 

BC3 a Collective Effort to Improve Healthcare in Colorado
At the July Colorado Health Symposium representatives from the BC3 inaugural steering committee provided conference participants an overview the initiatives goals and work platform and announced the launch of its new website. Better care, better costs, better Colorado is what BC3 signifies, reflecting Colorado's focus on improving how healthcare is delivered and reducing costs.

"BC3 was created as a platform for cross collaboration based upon the highly successful 'collective impact' model," said Dick Thompson, QHN's Executive Director and BC3 steering committee member. "Because we know we need to do more to improve the healthcare system and to reduce costs, we need to learn to work in more collaborative ways - using data to identify problem areas and to measure our progress."

The collective impact model is based on the belief that powerful change comes from the aligned work of many organizations and has proven to be a very effective tool in other communities' tackling major issues. This model focuses on increasing collaboration between and among organizations, understanding what is working well, and transferring that knowledge to others on a similar journey. 

Hot Topics Conference Calls
Date: Third Wednesday of each month
Time: 12:15-1:15 pm

Topics: Timely HIT topics announced monthly 
Medicare Quality Reporting Programs: 2017 Payment Adjustments Call

Date: September 24, 2015
Time: 11:30 - 1:00 p.m. MT.
This session will provide EPs instructions on: 
  • Avoiding 2017 PQRS payment adjustments
  • Satisfying the clinical quality measures of the EHR Incentive Program 
  • Earning incentives based on performance 
  • Avoiding 2017 payment adjustments under the Value-Based Payment Modifier

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Grand Junction, CO 81506