News Feature | May 19, 2015

Interoperability Momentum Builds At Houston HIE

Christine Kern

By Christine Kern, contributing writer

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Majority of hospital market now participating in regional health information exchange

Enthusiasm for interoperability is building in Houston as evidenced by the announcement CHI St. Luke’s Health has joined Greater Houston Healthconnect, a regional health information exchange. Last fall, Healthconnect signed an agreement with Baylor College of Medicine making it the largest state HIE in the nation. Baylor joined Baptist Hospitals of Southeast Texas, CHRISTUS Health of Southeast Texas, and Harris Health System as partners contributing and exchanging patient data via the HIE.

In addition to offering Direct Messaging services, Healthconnect membership includes a community health record and secure image sharing. Founded in 2010, Healthconnect is a neutral convener of patient records among the more than 130 hospitals and 16,000 physicians practicing in southeast Texas. The community health record portal allows authorized physicians to access patient records including information from past episodes of care, test results, diagnoses, and procedures irrespective of where that care was received. Healthconnect holds agreements with 284 healthcare organizations representing over 50 percent of area hospital beds and 40 percent of physicians.

Greater Houston Healthconnect CEO Nick Bonvino expressed pleasure over the move, saying, “We are delighted that CHI St. Luke’s hospitals and their affiliated physicians have joined other members in the coordination of care for their patients. This is an important milestone for the quality of care delivered across our community, and for Greater Houston Healthconnect as the neutral entity connecting all caregivers with patient health information and diagnostic images.”

CHI St. Luke’s plan is to grow a broad network of primary care and specialty physicians across its six hospitals, three emergency centers, and other service locations. The CHI St. Luke’s network will utilize access to patient health information from any of the participating Healthconnect facilities in order to achieve clinical integration, manage transitions of care, and improve long term health outcomes with the ultimate goal being implementation of effective population health management.

There is tremendous value in the interoperable exchange of health information within a community health model, as CHI St. Luke’s President and CEO Michael Covert explained, saying, “CHI St. Luke’s and our network of partner physicians are endeavoring to reach patients where they are in the community by offering them flexibility of care options and smart information systems to help them stay healthy. As part of Greater Houston Healthconnect we’re letting our patients know that we care about them no matter where they had or will receive care in the future. Their medical information should follow them wherever they go – seamlessly. We need a neutral, community-based organization to accomplish that.”