New HIE contract set to expand patient data

January 7, 2011
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Michigan Health Connect, a Grand Rapids-based nonprofit health information exchange, has a new agreement in place that will allow health care providers to trade patient data on the Medicity platform.

MHC already provides the Utah company’s Novo Grid to connect more than 500 doctors’ offices with hospital services, such as ordering laboratory and radiology tests and delivering test results to doctors. The system also interacts with electronic health records, and a pilot program for referrals between physician practices is about to be expanded, said Doug Deitzman, MHC executive director.

Now two additional Medicity applications for health information exchange will be available through MHC: ProAccess Community and MediTrust Cloud Services.

Those programs will allow for patient data from multiple providers to be aggregated and matched to create a patient electronic health record on demand, Dietzman said.

Each participating provider “will push data from their systems to the ‘community,’ and then when Doug Dietzman walks into an emergency room and the emergency doc wants to know, ‘What do I know about Doug Dietzman from the rest of the participants of Michigan Health Connect?’ they’ll get an integrated picture and be able to see in one place what’s happened to me and what my problems might be,” he said.

This approach allows participating health care providers to retain control over their own data yet share pertinent patient information, and avoids creation and maintenance of a centralized database.

Ascension Health’s St. John Providence Health System in Detroit and Borgess Medical Center in Kalamazoo will be the first to try the new patient data exchange applications in 2011, Dietzman said.

“It’s up to each participating organization as to when they want to plug their data into it,” he added, but full implementation is likely a few years away.

Michigan Health Connect was formed in 2009 by seven anchor hospitals, including Spectrum Health, Metro Health, and Saint Mary’s Health Care owner Trinity Health. It encompasses 34 hospitals and more than 500 physician practices in the Lower Peninsula.

The new contract between MHC and Medicity replaces individual contracts between each anchor hospital and Medicity.

“So now it’s formalized the agreement with them not only for the grid and how we’re pushing results and lab orders and things like that back and forth, but also now having the agreement with them on how we’re going to build out that aggregation of data and how we make that available across the system as it develops, as well,” Dietzman said.

“MHC is a unique organization that is realizing HIE success from the bottom up,” Medicity CEO Dr. Kipp Lassetter said. “With this next stage of development, they will be able to securely access a longitudinal view of the patient, giving them the tools they need to improve the quality and cost of care.”

Giant health insurer Aetna announced in December that it plans to acquire Medicity, whose products are used by more than 760 hospitals, 125,000 physician offices and a total 250,000 end users. The $500 million deal is subject to antitrust regulatory review, according to an Aetna press release.

Dietzman said the pending acquisition is expected to have little impact on MHC in the short-term. But in negotiating the deal, he said MHC built in safeguards to prevent Aetna from mining health exchange data for its own purposes.

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