Physicians and patients at the Howard Regional Health System and St. Joseph Hospital (Kokomo, Indiana) can now benefit from the clinical information exchanged through Indiana Health Information Exchange's (IHIE; Indianapolis) DOCS4DOCS service.

The healthcare providers have implemented IHIE's web-based service that delivers clinical reports like lab results, reports, and treatment information in real-time, sent instantly to where it needs to be for patient care (outpatient centers and ambulatory practices).

"Having two hospital systems in the same community work closely together in order to bring the DOCS4DOCS service to their patients is exactly the kind of collaboration that exemplifies the commitment to high-quality, efficient care," said Dr. J. Marc Overhage, president/CEO of the Indiana Health Information Exchange.

Overhage, who also serves as director of medical informatics at the Regenstrief Institute and is Regenstrief Professor of Medical Informatics at the Indiana University School of Medicine, said, "These hospital systems understand the value of having clinical information in the right place, at the right time and how it can improve patient outcomes and save healthcare dollars."

The DOCS4DOCS service replaces traditional delivery systems such as courier and mail. Some 39 hospitals in Indiana are sending roughly 2.8 million messages each month to more than 10,000 Indiana physicians. More than 50 million messages have been sent since the inception of the service, which was developed by the Regenstrief Institute and is run in conjunction with IHIE.

"We're . . . pleased to be partnering with St. Joseph Hospital in this community-based clinical messaging service," said James Alender, president/CEO of Howard Regional Health System. "By electronically delivering test results and other clinical information securely and efficiently, we are taking an important step in improving patient care and safety."

Howard Regional is an independent, county-owned, two-hospital healthcare system located in Howard County, Indiana, with outpatient locations in Peru, Tipton, Frankfort, and Greentown. St. Joseph Hospital is part of the St. Vincent Health System, which serves 45 Indiana counties and is one of IHIE's charter members.

In order to expand IHIE to all hospitals throughout the state and beyond Indiana's borders, the Indiana Health Information Exchange and partner organizations BioCrossroads, Regenstrief Institute, Mergetics and others are working on a collaborative effort to identify the opportunities within the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009's health IT allocation of $2 billion.

IHIE was formed by the Regenstrief Institute, private hospitals, local and state health departments, BioCrossroads, the state's life sciences initiative, and other organizations in Indiana. It is one of the nation's only health information exchange organizations providing chronic disease and preventive health services

In a prototype project, the New York eHealth Collaborative (NYeC) has partnered with global eHealth specialist InterComponentWare (ICW; Wayne, Pennsylvania) and Surescripts, operator of the country's largest electronic prescribing network, for an eHealth prototype project to facilitate prescription routing and, with a patient's consent, deliver prescription history for New York residents through the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY).

New York's statewide strategy envisions widespread use of health IT tools by clinicians and consumers. The prototype, which is in its early stages, will demonstrate secure and accurate transmission of prescription benefit and prescription history information, and prescription routing between electronic medical records (EMRs), the Surescripts network, and pharmacies and payers, using technical services and standards for health information exchange included in the ICW HealthCare Connector.

Surescripts, which was formed by the merger of Surescripts and RxHub in 2008, connects the nation's payers, prescribers and pharmacies for the secure electronic exchange of prescriptions and prescription information.

"SHIN-NY's vision for New Yorkers aligns with Surescripts' vision for all healthcare providers – secure, electronic access to prescription information that can save patients' lives, improve efficiency and reduce the cost of healthcare, said Rick Ratliff, president of Surescripts' Virginia division. "The Surescripts network, coupled with ICW's technology, will be a significant first step toward statewide access to prescription history data across NYS."

Rachel Block, executive director of NYeC, said,"SHIN-NY was formed based on a statewide goal to improve the quality and affordability of healthcare for all New Yorkers. Information technology is a key ingredient in achieving our goals."

She added, "By partnering with ICW, a proven technology provider, and Surescripts, the nation's largest e-prescribing network, we will benefit from experience and will receive the guidance necessary for creating a fully interoperable, statewide health information network. And from here, we can address issues relative to population health management, drug efficacy, and statewide resource planning."

InterComponentWare CEO Jeremy Coote said, "We believe there will be immediate value for HIE through medication management. New York's technical policies and standards can be leveraged by Surescripts and ICW and will allow physicians – with a patient's consent - to securely access, authenticate and audit a patient's prescription history, thereby enabling them to avoid duplication, spot illness trends, and make more informed prescribing decisions."

The key to the success of the initiative, he said, "lies in the governance and trust established by NYeC, combined with ICW's and Surescripts' ability to provide access while delivering the highest levels of security and privacy."

In other agreements/contracts news:

• INDUS (Vienna, Virginia), a federal IT solutions provider, announced today that it has been awarded an IT data analysis and administration contract by the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM), Office of the Surgeon General (OTSG).

Supporting those injured in Iraq, Afghanistan, and other contingency locations, INDUS provides patient movement visibility among overseas and stateside military treatment facilities, Veterans Affairs and civilian medical treatment facilities.

"This contract reflects [our] continuing commitment to support the warfighter. We are privileged to have this opportunity to do our part in providing the best care available for our wounded warriors," said Chairman/CEO Shiv Krishnan. "Keeping the Army's command structure appraised of the casualty situation is a serious responsibility, and we are committed to do our very best, every day."

INDUS is a provider of IT and communications services meeting mission-critical requirements of U.S. government civilian, defense, homeland security, and intelligence organizations.

• Merge Healthcare (Milwaukee), a medical imaging solutions provider, said that device manufacturer nSpire Health (Longmont, Colorado) has chosen MergeCOM- HL7 technology to enable connectivity for its line of respiratory diagnostic devices.

Merge will provide development services and its new software development toolkit specifically to deliver health standards-based interoperability for the new nSpire HDpft product line.

"In today's healthcare environment, it is critical that our products deliver seamless connectivity to healthcare information systems," said nSpire CEO Michael Sims. "Merge has a strong history of standards-based toolkits. Additionally, Merge's ability to customize implementation tools that will improve our productivity, and that of our customers, made them the logical choice for us."

HL7 is a set of standards for how medical devices share information electronically, and they are constantly updated and expanded as technology evolves. This native implementation of an HL7 interface will enable nSpire Health products to deliver full integration with hospital information systems and EMR/EHR solutions through a cost-effective, broker-free, interface that can stay current with the latest standards.

"We are pleased to have nSpire Health as the first partner for our new MergeCOM-3 HL7 technology," said Merge Healthcare CEO Justin Dearborn. "This new capability expands our decades of connectivity expertise in DICOM, the standard for medical imaging communication, and delivers even more innovative approaches and options to healthcare integration problems."

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