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Vendors overcome health information exchange challenges; CIOs have hope

Vendors demonstrate that interoperability is possible when it comes to patient medication information. This makes CIOs hopeful for the future.

Recently, SearchHealthIT reported on a project Epic, Cerner and other EHR vendors participated in to solve health information exchange challenges and create interoperability. In the project, the EHR vendors worked with medication management mobile application companies such as Medisafe, RxREVU, and CareEvolution to develop applications that enabled patients to access their medication information whether that information lived in Cerner or Epic or any of the other participating vendors' EHR systems.

The project was successful and seemingly solved one of the common health information exchange challenges: giving a patient a complete picture of the medications he is taking.

The caveat? Although this was demonstrated to work and did overcome health information exchange challenges, it is not happening in the real world.

SearchHealthIT asked healthcare CIOs  if success stories like this give them hope that health information exchange challenges will be overcome and eventually vendors will make interoperability possible.

Here are their thoughts:

Ed McCallister, CIO, University of Pittsburgh Medical CenterEd McCallister

Ed McCallister, CIO at University of Pittsburgh Medical Center in Pittsburgh, Pa.: Absolutely. … It's the first step but it's [also] how you use it. You don't need the whole EMR for the medication process that you described, you need a piece of the EMR, right? ... It all ties back to … what service you're providing and where the information is. You pull it together because you have a learned model and it's able to present it in a way that is at the point of care and it really becomes a game changer when you start presenting information at the point of care.

Indranil Ganguly, CIO, JFK Health SystemIndranil Ganguly

Indranil Ganguly, CIO at JFK Health System in Edison, N.J.: Yeah it does. I think there's promise and I think even on the vendor side they recognize the need to exchange information. We're all in this industry in some way, shape or form to ensure that patient care happens and happens well and continues to improve. Obviously the large vendors in the software space have a profit motive but I'd like to believe most of them have gotten into this business for some of the same reasons those on the provider side have gotten in: They believe in the value of delivering something into the patient care ecosystem. So you've got … social mission versus the business mission and I think they're trying to find ways to reconcile those two and exchange information as much as they can without reducing some of the value that's inherent in that information and making sure they don't erode their bottom line by doing it. I think those are cool projects, clearly, and we'd love to take advantage of those things.

Nicole Heim, VP and CIO at Milford Regional Medical CenterNicole Heim

Nicole Heim, VP and CIO at Milford Regional Medical Center in Milford, Mass.: Yeah, it definitely gives us hope. We actually have some integration with Meditech using DrFirst, and Surescripts is the repository for the medications. Our medication reconciliation technicians can pull in the medications that [were prescribed to the patient] and then pull [the medication information] into Meditech there. So that is a step forward. It's this exchange between our systems that's still been a challenge. The whole [process of] medications recorded in the ED, the patient gets admitted, that [process] flowing has been a challenge. [The Epic, Cerner, and health data exchange with mobile medication apps is], I think, a step in the process, that the whole medication reconciliation piece will come at some time. I just don't have a crystal ball to say when that's going to happen … hopefully in the near future.

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