Data exchange must become the norm for doing business in healthcare, according to Michael Matthews, CEO of MedVirginia, a regional health information exchange (HIE) in central and eastern Virginia.
"For HIE to achieve its ultimate success, it has to be viewed as a standard of care by the physician medical community," he says in an interview at Healthcare Informatics. "If it is, then let's get about the job doing it as effectively and efficiently as possible, and get these tools to providers at the point of care so they can care for their patients. If it's not a standard of care, it's all a waste of time, money and effort."
MedVirginia made a name for itself by being first in the country to connect online with the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN), the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Social Security Administration through the NwHIN.
Matthews says HIEs must move beyond talking about numbers of users to how useful the information is to participants.
MedVirginia is doing just that through the development of a system to notify primary care physicians when their patients visit the emergency room or are admitted to a hospital. The system also alerts them in order to help ensure discharged patients receive proper follow-up care, Matthews says.
A key for HIEs, he says, is to demonstrate how they add value.
MedVirginia showed value through its work with the Social Security Administration to help automate and expedite the disability determination process--an effort that reduced the length of time it takes to file a disability claim by 35 percent.
HIEs as an industry have to figure out how to fit into provider workflow and how to overcome the problems of interoperability.
The Premier healthcare alliance recently urged lawmakers to make health IT interoperability mandatory in the 21st Century Cures legislation, which aims to speed the process of delivering promising new treatments and cures to patients more quickly.
Groups in the collaborative initiative Carequality, meanwhile, are forging ahead of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT's interoperability roadmap. In March it released its Trust Principles as a framework for improving data exchange.
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