Clinical laboratory and pathology data from the two of the state’s largest hospital systems will soon be available to providers using the CliniSynch HIE
Ohio’s statewide health information exchange (HIE) is gaining two prominent new members and both are located in the Cleveland metropolitan area. Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals (UH)—two of the Ohio’s largest health systems—announced plans to connect to CliniSync Ohio’s statewide HIE.
Among other things, this will bolster the amount of clinical laboratory test data that can be accessed through the CliniSync HIE. That’s because both the Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals operate sizeable medical laboratories that serve large populations of patients in Cleveland and the surrounding region.
Health Systems Each Handle Large Volumes of Clinical Laboratory Testing
The addition of these two large health systems, with their extensive capabilities in clinical laboratory testing services and anatomic pathology services, means that the CliniSync HIE will be better positioned to aggregate huge amounts of data on patients in Ohio. In turn, this can make it easier for CliniSync’s administrators to implement programs that improve appropriate utilization of medical laboratory testing, along with a reduction in duplicate testing, because providers have real-time access to such a large database of medical laboratory test data.
The Cleveland Clinic is comprised of eight regional hospitals and 16 family health centers. The UH system includes 10 hospitals and two large medical groups that encompass 100 physician practices, all of which will join the exchange.
The CliniSync HIE network utilizes Medicity‘s solutions that, among other things, create a longitudinal health record for each patient. CliniSync allows connected healthcare providers in Cleveland and across Ohio to share patient health information. This includes clinical laboratory, pathology, microbiology, blood bank, and transcribed reports.
Dan Paoletti, is the CEO of the Ohio Health Information Partnership. This is the nonprofit that manages Ohio’s HIE. He told Cleveland.com, “The idea is to keep as much information as possible at the fingertips of doctors to enhance patient care.” The Ohio network currently connects 21 hospitals. Another 82 hospitals—nearly half of Ohio’s 167 hospitals—and 500 physicians have committed to joining CliniSync.
Staged Implementation of Provider Access to Health Data in the HIE
Initially, only those health-care providers with an established relationship with a patient will be able to access the patient’s medical record through the CliniSync network. Paoletti explained that emergency room physicians in the city cannot currently access a person’s records through the system, but that will change later this year. Paoletti emphasized that, in all cases, permission of the patient or a family member is required.
The two health systems are currently collaborating in a pilot project to test their respective connections to CliniSync. Once that pilot is successfully completed, each health system will enable access to CliniSync by the various patient-care settings throughout their hospital systems later this year.
Gaining More Value from Medical Laboratory Testing
Each health system has stated publicly that there are significant benefits that result from providing physicians with access to a patient’s complete authorized medical record. Among other things, this can lead to improved care and better outcomes. It can also contribute to a reduction of costs by eliminating duplication of tests. An article published in HealthHub from Cleveland Clinic, noted, for example, that an estimated 14% of clinical laboratory and imaging tests—totaling about $8 billion annually—are redundant. These procedures would not be ordered if the treating physician has access to a patient’s health records.
“It’s critical to create tools that allow hospitals to communicate with one another and gain quick access to medical information, whenever and wherever physicians need it,” said C. Martin Harris, M.D. He is Chief Information Officer at the Cleveland Clinic. Quoted in the HealthHub story, Harris went on to note that innovative solutions like this create a more accountable, connected healthcare system. It also expands the ability to care for patients by allowing doctors affiliated with different facilities to work together as a team “to get the right information for the right person at the right time.”
Delivering Complete Patient Data to Physicians
“We won’t have to make emergency medical decisions with incomplete information,” added Charles Emerman, M.D., Chair of Emergency Medicine at MetroHealth. “With access to the patient’s medical records, we’ll provide the right care immediately. For example, if a Cleveland Clinic patient comes to the MetroHealth emergency room following a car accident, we can immediately see if the patient ever had a stroke and is on blood-thinners. That information makes a difference in the care decisions we make. This will help us save lives,” Emerman emphasized.
CliniSync is an example of a statewide health information exchange that is gaining credibility and support by hospitals, physicians, and other providers across Ohio. If it succeeds in connecting these different providers in a clinically useful way, this HIE could have a major influence in providing some of the integrated healthcare informatics needed for accountable care organizations to succeed.
In the same way, because it is handling clinical laboratory test data from multiple medical laboratory testing sites, CliniSynch may be influential in fostering more integration and consolidation of diagnostic testing within Ohio.