How Baptist Health Care is using HIE to benefit patients

Health information exchanges have come under fire both inside and outside of the healthcare industry, but Baptist Health Care in Pensacola, Florida, has seen positive results. 

The biggest benefit to emerge from the HIE is a combined patient and physician portal, Steven Sarros, vice president and CIO at Baptist Health Care, tells Healthcare Informatics in an interview.

The hospital merged their physician system and inpatient system, which allows patients and doctors to see all the information in one place, Sarros said. "In terms of managing the patient side ... we are being progressive," he adds. 

About 100 doctors use the HIE each month and about 600 patients are getting better care because of it, Sarros said. All patient and emergency department data is included in the exchange, alongside data from competitor Sacred Heart Health System.

Despite Baptist Health's relative success, the future of exchanges in general is murky. A number of HIEs have run into legal and financial trouble; Connecticut's shut down earlier this month. And three Republican senators recently asked the Government Accountability Office to review HIEs funded by the Office of the National Coordinator of Health IT. They're concerned about the exchanges' struggles with sustainability.

In addition, a RAND report found that HIEs are still experimental and it's not clear if they can deliver the interoperability they're intended to provide.

Sarros says that while his community has seen success using an HIE, the exchanges are not a one-size-fits-all answer. 

"It's market by market; you can't paint this picture with a broad brush," he said.

To learn more:
- check out the interview