RHIOs, SHIN, and the Possibilities of Connected Healthcare

July 26, 2013
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connected healthAs a patient, I want my physicians and healthcare providers to give me the best care possible when needed. As a marketer in the healthcare industry, I understand the strains and difficulties it takes to make this possible. And however rough the waters may be, it’s clear that there is progress being made.

connected healthAs a patient, I want my physicians and healthcare providers to give me the best care possible when needed. As a marketer in the healthcare industry, I understand the strains and difficulties it takes to make this possible. And however rough the waters may be, it’s clear that there is progress being made. Not only between connecting patients with their physicians, but linking health systems together in an effort to bring quality care to a patient, wherever they may be.

At the New York State HIMSS Conference, Paul Wilder, vice president of product management of New York eHealth Collaborative, provided a regional update on how the state is doing in terms of healthcare unification. The update included adjectives such as “thriving,” “dynamic,” and “evolving” -the last one being the focal point of his presentation. This spotlight on the patient-centered care delivery has allowed health systems to follow the patient and the patient’s data. Wilder mentioned how this data is personal, yet it is not moving well from facility to facility. While proud of the strides New York has made, Wilder was honest in explaining that there is still a long way to go and he believes that eHealth Collaborative will be a key factor thanks to its position as a facilitator of healthcare policy development and a provider of technical services.

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Health organizations cannot tone down the liquidity of data, or stop it from moving because of the way data is created and shared today. Wilder emphasized that the technology we have available today can not only create the network for sharing patient data throughout the state, but also facilitate the secure exchange of the data. As of now, regional organizations exist that allow for the smooth exchange of data. These regional health information organizations (RHIOs) serve as effective entities for the smaller areas, but a state-wide information infrastructure must be built to handle state reform goals. The caveat being that this is not only about changes in healthcare, but system changes as well. The goals Wilder discussed for these organizations included:

  • Support clinicians and consumers with information at point of care
  • Advance care coordination
  • Strengthen public health surveillance and response
  • Enhance quality and outcome measures

The solution Wilder presented to meet these goals focuses on making the private network provide the solution to the Department of Health (DoH) instead of the other way around. The RHIOs are built and are more nimble than the DoH. In New York, the Statewide Health Information Network (SHIN-NY) consists of the connected RHIOs. According to Wilder, the advantages that these RHIOs provide are that they possess an understanding of local needs. Because of this, it becomes easier to integrate systems from one RHIO to another. What this means for patients is:

  • Secure messaging with a broader reach
  • Care coordination
  • Results-based delivery
  • General messaging
  • Secure transmission of private health information between covered entities
  • Information exchange via a Healthcare Internet Service Provider (HISP)
  • Subscribing to notification so there is notification when there is an event (admission, inpatient admission, discharge, etc.)
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In his conclusion, Wilder encouraged everyone in the room to become part of, and show support for, SHIN-NY. If we work to become connected, it presents the potential to improve the state’s ability in offering quality care to people across the state—from New York City to most western and northern regions. While what he discussed was unique to New York, it provides an excellent model for other states in the U.S. to follow. New York is well connected when it comes to healthcare thanks to the RHIOs and SHIN-NY, and it is to be expected that the connectivity will only be improved in the following months and years.

(Connecting doctors and patients / shutterstock)