Rush Health to develop private HIE

Chicago-based Rush Health plans to create a private health information exchange to better connect its three hospitals and close to 1,000 physicians, Crain's Chicago Business reported this week.

The HIE, according to Rush Health President and CEO Brent Estes, stands to be the "largest investment" in the system's 20-year history, although he refused to divulge any cost specifics with Crain's. "We want to use this infrastructure to connect and exchange real-time information so we can do a better job coordinating [care]," he said.

According to Estes, Rush will require all of its physicians to use an electronic health record system. He said that the system will pay for the initial year of implementation and training--a $12,000 value per physician--on one of three vendor systems: Epic, eClinicalWorks or athenahealth.

Estes added that Rush likely will link its HIE with a regional HIE being developed by the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council. As of December, 34 Chicago-area hospitals were set to join the regional HIE, with another 20 to 30 hospitals expected to join by this summer. Officials eventually hope to include all 89 metro-area facilities in the HIE.

If research published in November is any indication, Rush's new endeavor likely will be successful. The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, found that physicians are influenced more by other physicians with whom they interact and have common patients with than geographic location when it comes to HIE networks.

Interoperability and sustainability are among the biggest hurdles that HIEs face, according to the eHealth Initiative's 2013 Health Data Exchange Survey. The report calls interoperability "a great hurdle with little relief in sight."

To learn more:
- read the Crain's story

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