Georgia Health Information Network
Letter from the Executive Director
It’s that time of the year when we reflect on our successes and our challenges, and anticipate what the new year will bring. Looking back over the past 12 months, it's clear that 2014 was a great year for Georgia’s statewide Health Information Network.
Three of the largest health systems in the Southeast, Emory Healthcare, Grady Health System, and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, established a connection to GaHIN. Also in 2014:
All five regional Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) in Georgia executed agreements with GaHIN.
GaHIN created a connection to the Nationwide Network and established the nation's first state-to-state HIE connection with South Carolina.
GAHIN also became a member of DirectTrust, enabling our GeorgiaDirect users to exchange secure messages nationally.
While it was a great year, there is still more to do to link healthcare providers to timely, relevant patient information. In addition to completing connections with Georgia HIEs, GaHIN is implementing connectivity with the Georgia Partnership for TeleHealth, the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities and East Tennessee HIE.
Also in 2015, we are focused on adding providers as well as long-term care and home health agencies to GeorgiaDirect, and anticipate adoption by an additional 1,000 providers statewide. Through Georgia ConnectedCare, we are adding health systems and federal agencies to the Network. And we will continue developing new value-added products and services.
Many thanks to stakeholders from across Georgia for their continuing support of GaHIN. We are excited about the future of health information exchange and health IT in Georgia and we look forward to a continuing collaboration with the healthcare community to build better connections to support delivery of better care.
Dr. Denise Hines, PMP, FHIMSS
Executive Director, GaHIN
GaHIN Launches Online Provider Directory
GaHIN just made it easier to locate providers and members participating in GeorgiaDirect. Located in the Resources section of the GaHIN website, the Provider Directory contains an easy-to-use search function that lets users quickly and easily locate providers and obtain information including organization name, provider name, secure email, phone and address. Features include:
- Copy email address from within the database
- Locate providers using the Google map functionality
- Discern which providers have achieved trusted status by their checkmark designation
- Search by any information in the database - city, provider, organization
The Provider Directory is just one more way GaHIN is facilitating the secure exchange of patient information, allowing providers to access the patient information they need at the point of care to improve the health of all Georgians.
National Mandates to Spur HIE Adoption
The last week of January 2015 saw a flurry of national announcements centered on interoperability, health information exchange and performance-based reimbursement. Powering these new initiatives and care models is the efficient, secure exchange of health information.
On Monday, 1/23, HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell announced that by 2016 the CMS wants 30% of Medicare payments to be linked to payment reform models, and 50% by 2018. The new targets for payment reform are expected to accelerate federal use of accountable care and bundled payments, replacing volume-based billing with value-based care.
Two days later, a coalition of providers, insurers and employers pledged to have 75% of their members' business switched to performance-based contracts with incentives for health outcomes, quality and cost management by 2020.
And on Friday, 1/27, the federal health information technology coordinator released a wide-ranging report on how to improve interoperability in electronic health-record systems. The report, “Connecting Health and Care for the Nation, A Shared Nationwide Interoperability Roadmap,” (PDF) calls for most providers to be able to use their systems to send, receive and use “a common set of electronic clinical information ... at the nationwide level by the end of 2017.”
The ability of HIES, such as GaHIN, to facilitate care coordination and exchange patient information among hospitals, physicians and other providers will not only support these new mandates, it will also encourage adoption and use of HIEs.
GaHC Gives Providers More HIE Options
As the newest regional health information exchange in the state, Georgia Health Connect (GaHC) gives healthcare providers and hospitals more options for secure electronic patient data exchange and a lower cost connection to GaHIN.
Founded last year by the Georgia Health Information Technology Extension Center (GA-HITEC), GaHC is focused on easy-to-integrate technology solutions, including HIE services to healthcare providers typically operating in rural and underserved areas. With GaHC, providers in smaller practices can achieve technology equality with their larger counterparts.
“We recognized that a significant gap existed in statewide interoperability among providers located in rural and other under-served areas” said Dr. Dominic Mack, Co-Director, NCPC at Morehouse School of Medicine. "These providers had no or limited electronic access to comprehensive patient information and leading edge technology. So the GA-HITEC established GaHC with the primary goal of making it easy and less costly for smaller practices and rural healthcare organizations to get access to secure data exchange services.
"Our user-friendly technology and clinical support services help smaller healthcare providers deliver better patient care while receiving the same benefits from technology as larger healthcare entities.”
Through its strategic partnerships with Liaison, Quest Diagnostics, DrFirst, and others, GaHC offers its participants a comprehensive patient data repository, community patient record, electronic lab and radiology results, medication reconciliations, performance quality dashboard, and Direct messaging services. GaHC’s recent connection to GaHIN also gives providers access to patient data available from a statewide network of health systems, hospitals, provider practices, other regional HIEs, state agencies, including Medicaid and Public Health, and the nationwide HIE network, HealtheWay.
“We are pleased to welcome GaHC to the GaHIN network, which increases the ability of providers throughout the state of Georgia to easily and securely access patient information,” said Denise Hines, Executive Director of GaHIN. “Regardless of location, size and technology, providers in Georgia have the ability to decrease the cost of care by eliminating unnecessary costs, and increase the quality of care with longitudinal patient records.”
As one of many regional HIEs in Georgia benefiting from GaHIN’s support and expertise, GaHC is set to connect several thousand Georgia providers and their patients in 2015. To learn more about how to connect your electronic health record systems to the GaHC health information exchange, visit www.gahealthconnect.org or contact GaHC at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1-877-658-1990.
GaHIN, GaHC Present at National ONC Meeting
The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC) held its 2015 Annual Meeting February 2-3, 2015, in Washington, D.C. The meeting gathered over 1,000 health IT partners for two days of plenaries and breakout sessions.
Dr. Denise Hines, executive director of GaHIN, and Dr. Dominic Mack, Co-Director, NCPC at Morehouse School of Medicine, conducted a session titled, "Health Information Exchange in Rural and Underserved Communities."
The session examined the adoption of EHR systems among various segments of providers to understand the inequities in EHR adoption rates and the impact that national health IT initiatives may have on healthcare disparities. The well-accepted predicate that health IT successfully and thoughtfully integrated into clinical workflow has the potential to improve the quality and safety of care was discussed in the context of minority and underserved communities.
Five Reasons It Makes Cents to Join an HIE
In today’s challenging healthcare environment where every dollar counts, Georgia providers have to be savvy consumers when making investments in technology. Following are five financial reasons your healthcare organization should join an HIE in 2015.
Reduce hospital Medicare penalties. Features available through HIEs can help hospitals facing penalties when they do not meet or reduce their 30-day readmission rates. An HIE assists hospitals with closing the loop with clinicians to improve discharge planning and post-acute care follow-up. A 2013 study showing the impact of health information exchange on reducing avoidable admissions noted that when external medical histories were consulted, the likelihood of seven-day readmissions decreased 48% overall and by 27.2% when compared with viewing only information available in the local electronic medical record system.
Increase provider Medicare reimbursements. Features of health information exchange give providers opportunities for increased Medicare reimbursements. For example, Medicare has approved two new CPT codes for transitional care management (TCM) to reflect the non-face-to-face care management work involved in primary care. These new codes require a doctor to contact their patients within two business days of hospital discharge. In many situations, this is nearly impossible without the aid of tools and features made available by a regional or statewide HIE. The reimbursement associated with these two new codes average out to be $60 higher than the “traditional” reimbursement rates for follow-up visits.
Achieve savings in patient costs and provider time. A study conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP) in 2013 tracked 325,740 patient encounters with 231 clinicians at a dozen emergency departments (ED) in South Carolina. Over the course of a year, the study found that access to an HIE saved more than $1 million in patient charges at almost $2,000 per patient annually. The cost savings were broken into laboratory/microbiology, radiology, consultations and hospital readmissions with the most significant savings found to be around reduced hospital readmissions. In terms of increased efficiencies through HIE use, findings revealed that more than 80% of the clinicians surveyed said using the HIE saved valuable time at an average of 105 minutes per patient.
Qualify for Medicaid EHR Incentive Payments. Medicaid Eligible Providers (EPs) can qualify for EHR incentive payments totaling as much as $63,750 through the Medicaid EHR Incentive Program. To qualify, EPs must currently meet specific criteria of Meaningful Use Stages 1 and 2, including patient health data exchange. Joining an HIE enables providers to meet criteria in both stages of MU. Eligible Hospitals (EHs), including critical access hospitals (CAHs), can also join an HIE to meet qualifications for EHR incentive payments totaling some $2 million or more.
Reduce the administrative burden and costs associated with faxes and phone calls to obtain patient health records. HIE can reduce the administrative burden on staff because tasks that are currently conducted manually—requesting results and patient summaries, sending referrals and receiving the reports, sending prescriptions, etc.—can be handled electronically. By streamlining workflow and reducing errors, practices often see a reduction in operating costs. Use GaHIN’s Return on Investment resources to calculate your potential savings by reducing or eliminating chart pulls and faxes.