Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Is Vermedx® "Health Information Exchange?"

First, what is "Health Information Exchange?"

“The movement of health-related data–clinical and/or administrative –according to an agreed-upon set of interoperable standards, processes and activities across independently operating organizations in a manner that protects the privacy and security of an individual’s information.” (“Consensus Conventions for the Use of Key HIT Terms” Project – ONC/HHS, 2008)

Well, let's see:
  • move health-related data (mostly clinical) - check
  • agreed-upon interoperable standards (among the various labs and practices) - check
  • independently operating organizations (dozens of labs, hundreds of practices, few of them even talking to one another, let alone operating together) - check
  • privacy and security - check
So, it is HIE, but it doesn't feel like it. Why? Because VDIS doesn't require a lot of new infrastructure or capital outlay by the participating organizations (especially the practices). It also doesn't have a big national consensus standard or a far-reaching scope that seeks to do all of the possibly conceivable things you might want to do with health information. VDIS is a small, single-purpose system designed to do one type of HIE fast, easy and inexpensively. As it gets good at one important task, we extend it and add other tasks and features. Happily, the underlying architecture is very flexible, so we'll be able to do this for lots and lots of cool new services.

But it is open for business now.Thousands of patients are getting reminders and alerts when their diabetes needs attention. Hundreds of PCPs are getting decision support and advice tailored to their patients' current clinical situation.

I'm very excited about RHIOs and the wonderful potential to make wholesale changes in broad chunks of health care. But, I'm also impatient to start making things better now. So, I'm glad that providers and insurers in my part of Vermont are using Vermedx® to start bringing the information age to us today, while the state-wide infrastructure for a fully-functional RHIO gets put together.

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