HIMSS tackles continuity of care with community EMR

May 1, 2005

The 2005 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference rolled out a virtual regional health information organization in what the society claimed was the largest-ever interoperability demonstration.

The 2005 Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference rolled out a virtual regional health information organization in what the society claimed was the largest-ever interoperability demonstration.

The regional health information organization (RHIO) is popping up across the country in response to the Framework for Strategic Action published last year by Dr. David Brailer, national coordinator for health information technology at the Department of Health and Human Services.

The framework is a guide for implementation of community-based, interconnected electronic medical records within 10 years. For the HIMSS meeting's virtual RHIO, conference attendees were encouraged to create their own electronic medical records and register in the virtual network as patients within the regional organization.

Once created, these records were available for access at an interoperability showcase and also at several participating vendor exhibits.

"For the first time, more than 40 vendors, providers, government agencies, regional health information databases, and standards development organizations collaborated to create a regional health information organization across the HIMSS exhibit floor," said Joyce Sensmeier, director of professional services for HIMSS.

The HIMSS interoperability showcase demonstrated several scenarios that put various Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise profiles to the test in moving patient information and images throughout a hospital enterprise.

In the radiology-scheduled workflow scenario presented at the cross-enterprise interoperability showcase, a virtual patient complaining of shortness of breath was taken through the imaging workflow. The process highlighted several IHE profiles, including radiology-scheduled workflow, patient identifier cross-referencing, and access to radiology information.

The scheduled workflow profile pushed the patient information, request for scanning, and resulting images to various PACS devices. The integration profiles allowed the patient's chest x-rays to be pulled up and viewed on PACS products from different vendors.

When different patient medical record numbers were pulled up from historical studies, the patient identifier cross-referencing and access to radiology information profiles allowed the PACS to query for the appropriate patient record.

Another scenario addressing comprehensive patient care highlighted the newly created cross-enterprise document-sharing IHE profile.

This profile enabled the transfer through various vendor information systems of information for a patient presenting at an ambulatory care clinic with vague chest and epigastric distress. The patient was eventually referred to a gastroenterologist for possible acid reflux.

"We know that much of the inefficiency, frustration, and risk in patient care occurs in the gaps as patients move between locations and settings. It is crucial for the hospital to be able to electronically access health information from physician offices and for offices in turn to be able to see data from hospital stays," said HIMSS medical director Dr. Mark Leavitt.

In addition to the 32 vendors participating in the ambulatory care and cross-enterprise interoperability showcases, 16 vendors participated in the demonstration from their exhibit booths.