News Feature | May 8, 2014

HIEs Establish Secure Transfer Of Health Data

By Wendy Grafius, contributing writer

Secure HIE Data Transfer

Two Texas HIEs connect for the first time to allow the secure transfer of health data across the state.

The Greater Houston Healthconnect (HEALTHCONNECT) and Austin-based Integrated Care Collaboration (ICC) have connected to enable the secure transfer of health data between two of the largest local HIEs in Texas. Facilitated by HIETexas, the shared services of the Texas Health Services Authority (THSA), the connection will allow healthcare providers to share patient data and critical medical information.

The THSA was formed in 2007 to implement health information exchange (HIE) and health information technology (HIT) throughout the state of Texas. Its secure network will support the electronic exchange of health-related information between the ten local HIE networks within the state as well as other HIEs and federal agencies outside of Texas. “Currently, health information in local HIEs is siloed, so an emergency room doctor in Austin cannot get patient records from Dallas, Houston, or San Antonio,” said Tony Gilman, CEO of THSA. “HIETexas will connect these community HIEs so that the emergency room doctor or another treating physician has access to the right information, at the right time.”

Houston-based HEALTHCONNECT serves 6.8 million people in a 20-county area, encompassing 133 hospitals and 14,000 physicians. “We have been very pleased to work with THSA over the years,” said Dr. Phil Beckett, acting president and CEO of HEALTHCONNECT. “Collaboration is the hallmark of a successful health information exchange program and today’s announcement formalizes our combined efforts into contractual commitments to serving each other as well as the patients and providers who are always at the center of our focus.”

ICC serves residents of 47 counties in Central and Eastern Texas. “Today marks a significant achievement as we work towards increased connectivity among all Texas patients, doctors, and medical facilities,” said Carl Angel, executive director of ICC. “The connection between ICC and HEALTHCONNECT through HIETexas will ultimately mean greater access to better care for all the patients we serve in the greater Austin and Houston communities.”

The shared level services of HIETexas make the Lone Star State one of the first states to launch a network-of-networks model which connects local HIEs, regardless of technology or EHRs used. Following the Austin and Houston HIEs live implementation, the remaining eight local networks will be connected, enabling the secure transfer of health information across the state. “Texas continues to be a national leader in developing and implementing health information technology and secure sharing of patients’ health information,” said Rick Perry, governor of Texas, who established the THSA during his administration. “The secure, electronic transfer of health information between authorized healthcare providers will assist in reducing medical errors and preventing healthcare fraud.”

SOURCE: PR Newswire