The Department of Health Care Finance (DHCF), the Medicaid agency for the District of Columbia, has selected MedPlus (Madison, New Jersey), the health information technology subsidiary of Quest Diagnostics (also Madison), to implement the district government's first Medicaid-focused health information exchange (HIE).
Within a year, clinicians and selected hospitals and clinics serving Medicaid beneficiaries will soon be able to quickly share and access clinical information about their patients, at the point of care, thanks to the district's new Patient Data Hub.
The health information exchange contract will empower healthcare providers, in the pilot project, to access and confidentially share critical patient information from any location through a secure, web-based portal and interoperable data exchange. The Hub will give doctors full access to information on patient allergies, lab test results, medication history, demographic data and clinical notes, driving improved patient care, and through the MedPlus Centergy technologies, afford them access to a national network that includes more than 85 electronic medical record (EMR) vendors and the more than 140,000 networked physicians using Quest Diagnostics' Care360 connectivity services.
Health IT connectivity was a recommendation put forth by the RAND Corp. (Santa Monica, California) in its 2008 study, Assessing Health and Health Care in the District of Columbia. RAND called for building on the district's existing investments in electronic medical records in primary care clinics, as well as in regional health information organizations (RHIO) and engaging private medical providers, including specialists and hospitals, to adopt a system of electronic medical records and participate in the RHIO to create a more comprehensive system of connectivity across the spectrum of care.
"Giving our most vulnerable residents one less thing to worry about, while simultaneously providing efficiencies in care that will help to improve the quality of healthcare delivered makes for a winning combination," said Dr. Julie Hudman, director of the Department of Health Care Finance.
Participants in the pilot health information exchange project include three hospitals and six clinics. The hub will aggregate patient data from these clinical sources and four additional government sources to provide the front line clinician with a richer set of data for clinical decision making. As a result, these sources will provide aggregated data that will assist in the identification of health trends and issues in the region, as a means to improving public health.
Authorized users of the Patient Data Hub will be able to share, access and manage, at the point of care, relevant clinical information, such as patient demographics, medication lists, allergies, advance directives, information on physicians treating the patient, and medical problem lists.
"The hub's capabilities will not stop there," Hudman said. "Ours will be an expandable and interoperable network that allows us to meet future needs. It will be equipped with data analytic capabilities that will empower our public health officials to identify and address gaps in patient care revealed by the aggregate data in the system; and it will help us to break new ground in locating at-risk populations, tracking the success of health initiatives and identifying opportunities for improvement in our healthcare system."
The MedPlus solution developed for the DC Patient Data Hub is designed to deliver adoption simplicity to its users, eliminating the need for complex IT implementation or significant disruptions to workflow, and offering a flexible, Web-based interface.
MedPlus solutions are currently used by nationwide health information network contractors in California, New Mexico and New York, as well as by some of North America's largest health information exchanges, including those in Ohio, British Columbia and the New York Clinical Information Exchange.