Sponsored by Lane Powell

Health information exchange boosts quality, cuts costs

| Print |  Email
Friday, July 05, 2013


07.05.13 Blog MedicalRecordsIn America’s competition-based health care market, it can be tough to get rival care providers to work together and share information. Organizers of the Jefferson Health Information Exchange (JHIE), are proud of the way southern Oregon health care providers are cooperating to streamline the flow of patient information in order to improve care and reduce costs.

Guided by the Jefferson Regional Health Alliance (JHRA) and consulting firm Advances in Management (AIM), southern Oregon hospitals such as Providence and Asante, public health agencies, clinics, and independent physicians have all collaborated over the past two years to form JHIE, a new non-profit corporation that facilitates electronic communication among providers.

The Affordable Care Act has been a catalyst for such cooperation because it requires and rewards meaningful electronic information exchange among providers. “The ACA has really motivated a lot of folks to do things in different ways,” says Anne Alftine, MD, Project Coordinator for JHRA.  “Overall, the ACA is about health care transformation, improving care and reducing costs. Those are also the goals of health information exchange."

Due to decentralization of the health care system, technology challenges and the difficulty of getting a diverse group of competing interests to agree on anything, establishing a regional Health Information Exchange (HIE) program is not easy.  But Gina Bianco, president of AIM and acting director to JHIE, says implementing HIE  has been notably smooth compared to other regions she’s worked with.

“There are communities that attempt, but don’t always succeed," she says. "What makes HIE succeed in this community is the willingness of people to really cooperate and put competition aside and focus on the best interest of the patients."

JHIE services are being rolled out in three phases. The initial phase, launched in January, allows providers to electronically send and receive information such as patient referrals and lab results in real time.  “The current phase is really a point-to-point exchange from one health care provider to another. Doctors do that today via fax and phone. HIE allows them to do it electronically,” says Paula Wheldon, a project manager for JHIE.

JHIE is now working on phase two, which will give authorized care providers the ability to search a patient’s clinical records from other providers and contribute information for other providers to see. The final phase, set to roll out in 2015, is more broadly focused on public health reporting and statistical data analysis.

Although JHIE’s benefits to patients are obvious, such broad medical-record search capability could make some patients nervous about privacy issues.  Wheldon, Alftine and Bianco emphasize the safety of patient records, noting that the system will meet HIPAA information security standards and include access controls to prevent unauthorized use, such as a requirement that there has to be a clinical relationship between the provider and patient for any medical queries to take place.

JHIE’s primary focus is improved efficiency and care; however, it is also expected to lead to greater cost savings for the health care providers and the patients.  JHIE is too new to quantify the savings yet, but Bianco says that other communities have seen significant savings. “With HIE, we avoid duplicating documents or procedures, and we save money related to technology and not having to build multiple interfaces. Also, from the patient’s perspective, not having to have duplicate tests and avoiding additional copays can be a tremendous savings,” said Bianco.

Alftine and her colleagues are proud of their efforts. “It has taken a lot of teamwork, drive and energy to get JHIE off the ground,” she says. Bianco praises the grass-roots effort that led to the formation of JHIE, “This isn’t just some organization imposing its will; it’s truly a community driven project with the patient at the center.”

Angela Decker is a freelance writer based in Ashland.


More Articles

Back to School

September 2015
Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Oregon is home to an abundance of gritty warehouses reborn as trendy office spaces, as well as crafty hipsters turned entrepreneurs. Does the combination yield an equally bounteous office products sector? Not so much. Occupying the limited desk jockey space are Field Notes, a spinoff of Portland’s Draplin Design Company, and Schuttenworks, known for whittling Apple device stands. For a full complement of keyboard trays, docking stations and mouse pads, check out the GroveMade line, guaranteed to boost the cachet of even the lowliest cubicle drone. 


Car be gone

Linda Baker
Thursday, August 06, 2015
070615car2goblogthumbBY LINDA BAKER

Car and ride sharing services have taken urban areas by storm. Low-income and suburban communities are left at the curb.


5 takeaways from the rural Oregon economic report

The Latest
Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Oregon Office of Economic Analysis released a report on the vitality of rural Oregon this week.  Media reports focused on the number of Californians moving to the "Timber Belt," but the document contained other interesting insights regarding regional challenges and successes.


Social media transforming sports business

The Latest
Thursday, September 24, 2015

The traditional model of sports teams using paid media to get their message across is disappearing as teams look instead to social media to interact with fans.


Salad Days

October 2015
Monday, September 28, 2015

How Portland's Garden Bar plans to become the Starbucks of salad.


Light Reading

September 2015
Thursday, August 20, 2015

Ask any college student: Textbook prices have skyrocketed out of control. Online education startup Lumen Learning aims to bring them down to earth.


100 Best Nonprofits: Working for equality inside and out

October 2015
Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Striving for social equity is the mission of many nonprofits, and this year’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For in Oregon survey shows employees are most satisfied with their organizations’ fair treatment of differing racial, gender, disability, age and economic groups. But as a national discourse about racial discrimination and equity for low-income groups takes center stage, data show Oregon’s 100 Best Nonprofits to Work For still need to make progress on addressing these issues within their own organizations.

Oregon Business magazinetitle-sponsored-links-02