What is a health information exchange (HIE), why should healthcare executives care, and why are provider organizations embracing it? These topics are covered in a podcast featuring experts Denise Abraham, the health information exchange coordinator for The Washington Hospital, and Charles R. Vargo, executive director of the Washington Physician Hospital Organization Inc. (WPHO). They work closely in The Washington Health Information Network (WHIN), a private HIE that connects The Washington Hospital with physician practices affiliated with the Washington Physician Hospital Organization.
A brief background
Founded in 1898, The Washington Hospital is a full-service, community teaching hospital with 274 beds, 17,000 annual admissions, and 700,000 outpatient visits annually. Located south of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S., it has 14 outpatient service locations in addition to the main hospital campus. WPHO includes more than 250 primary care and specialist physicians from more than 90 practices not under common ownership in Washington and Greene counties.
The WHIN uses a private HIE including data repositories and enterprise access via a physician portal developed by MobileMD, a Siemens company based in Warmister, Pennsylvania. In the podcast, Abraham and Vargo discuss their experiences with HIE as part of The Washington Hospital’s patient care improvement initiatives. The HIE helps physicians, nursing, and key clinical staff secure access to key information such as lab and radiology reports and EKGs. The HIE unites 13 EMR systems from different vendors via interfaces to provide one data repository that allows enterprise access to more than 375 physicians in central Pennsylvania. More than 90 percent of their physician practices also participate in the physician portal.
The Washington Hospital and its physicians access key data across the care continuum, achieving significant reductions in paper-based communications and the associated staffing costs, expediting billing cycles, and reducing calls to medical records. It has helped to achieve high levels of physician and staff satisfaction has been very high over the course of the five year project. In addition, a study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that physicians with HIE access ordered fewer labs tests that those without such access.