By Christine Kern, contributing writer
In a novel collaborative program designed to support medical research, iSpecimen and the Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN), the nation’s first operational statewide health information exchange (HIE), have announced a joint program allowing hospitals and labs in the DHIN network to easily repurpose remnant clinical specimens into medical research programs while reducing their costs to participate in DHIN. Union Hospital will be the program’s initial member.
Normally, remnant samples would be discarded once patient testing is complete, but this program allows healthcare information from participating DHIN members to be de-identified and matched to corresponding remnant specimens at these provider sites. The specimens and their data then are searchable in real-time to find matches. The samples are shipped to researchers instead of being discarded as is current practice once clinical testing is complete. By engaging in the specimen matching, participating hospitals can make a critically important contribution to the acceleration of biomedical research and also benefit from reduced DHIN fees, which may be put back into hospital operations.
In order to be considered for a research match, specimens must be released for use by the patients who provided them for testing. All samples form patients who have not provided express consent to participate will be excluded and suppressed from consideration.
“The value of digitizing medical data extends beyond the obvious value of supporting direct patient care,” said Jan Lee, MD, CEO, DHIN. “With informed patient consent, digital data can also help match clinical specimens with very specific research criteria. DHIN is proud to play a role in supporting such efforts to find new breakthrough treatments and cures. We are delighted to have iSpecimen as a technology partner and to have Union Hospital as the first adopter of this innovative program.”
DHIN is the country’s first operational statewide HIE, and has made a sizable impact on the quality, cost, and continuity of care in its region. As stated on its website, “DHIN supports better and safer healthcare through better communication” serving over 2.1 million patients with more than 14 million clinical results annually. DHIN serves all acute care hospitals, major laboratories, and radiology facilities in Delaware, along with all skilled nursing facilities and approaching 100 percent of ordering physicians. The collaboration with iSpecimen as a unique way to leverage DHIN past the point-of-care and continue making a positive impact in medicine.
“Bringing our state-of-the-art technology to DHIN represents our first foray outside of a hospital, lab, or biobank,” explained Christopher Ianelli, MD, PhD, CEO, iSpecimen. “What’s really great is that by leveraging an HIE as the data aggregator, we’re making it easier for healthcare organizations to become part of the iSpecimen network by virtually eliminating their need to do any IT implementation. Requiring virtually no startup resources on the hospital or lab’s part, we can turn their specimen waste into valuable research material and make it visible to the scientific community.”