Patagonia Health Signs Contract with Carequality Interoperability Framework

Tag Archives: Health Information Exchange

Patagonia Health Signs Contract with Carequality Interoperability Framework

Patagonia Health, a developer of an Electronic Health Record (EHR) software focused on Public and Behavioral Health, has signed a contract with Carequality. Carequality connects thousands of providers nationwide to patient health data. Members of Carequality include Electronic Health Record vendors, regional Health Information Exchanges, labs, and other data sources. The membership with Carequality will enable Patagonia Health users to connect directly to local hospitals for patient records, as well as many other networks nationwide, without requiring multiple third-party interfaces. 

The Carequality Interoperability Framework will enable Patagonia Health’s clients to:

  • Access real-time patient information for providers to develop the best care plan decisions
  • Improve clinical insight, quality outcomes, and financial performance
  • Improve coordinated care in communities and reduce the cost of healthcare
  • Seamlessly access the database of thousands directly through Patagonia Health EHR with fast overall performance—information returned within 30 seconds
  • And more!

Application and development work is currently underway for a secure membership with Carequality. Patagonia Health expects to be an active member of the interoperability framework by September 2020. To learn more about how to benefit from Patagonia Health’s Carequality membership, contact us today.

Why Health Information Exchange is Important for EHR Use

Health Information Exchange is Important for EHR Use

Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are an integral part of today’s healthcare system. Despite initial hesitation to switch to an EHR, an overwhelming majority of organizations that have made the change cannot imagine going back to paper. EHRs improve efficiency and increase reimbursements while improving patient care. As providers become more fluent with the technology, EHRs help them with decision making and influence the way a client is treated. Additionally, EHRs enable connectivity, or to use the current buzzword, interoperability.

Interoperability refers to health information technology that enables electronic health information to be easily exchanged. It lets authorized professionals access, exchange and use the health information. In our journey to transform healthcare, Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) have been established. Connecting an EHR to an HIE allows health information to flow seamlessly to the right people at the right place at the right time.

What is an HIE?

But what exactly is an HIE? Historically, when a patient visited a healthcare facility, the provider had two paths to understand the medical history of the patient:

  • Check the facility’s own EHR system for prior visit information, such as allergies, medications, procedures, etc.
  • Ask the patient to fill in any missing information not already documented.

As you know, there are several problems with this process. Not only do patients rarely remember information from prior visits, but they are seen in multiple facilities using various EHR systems, as well. Also, consider a patient who comes into the ER and is unresponsive. How would a provider find out about his or her missing information?

A Health Information Exchange addresses this issue. An HIE is a secure central repository of patient data aggregated across multiple facilities and EHR systems in the same region. The goal is to provide a holistic view of the patient’s electronic health record through a secure, standardized system. EHRs connected to an HIE can share information via the federally defined standards of CCR (Continuity of Care Record) and CCD (Continuity of Care Document). This is the standard all federally-certified EHRs must follow.

Any federally-certified EHR connected to an HIE can (if permitted) send and/or receive information between the EHR and the HIE. Thus, the provider can send and receive electronic information with any community provider also connected to the HIE.

Benefits of Health Information Exchange

Benefits of Using an EHR for Health Information Exchange

Using an HIE streamlines information and connects a practitioner to all aspects of a client’s medical history. Practitioners can receive health information from the HIE, such as a patient discharge summary from a community hospital. This information can be brought into a patient’s chart as electronic health data after it has been reviewed. Using an HIE helps facilitate coordinated patient care, enabling an organization to:

  • Save time by minimizing readmissions
  • Increase efficiency by moving away from paper and fax machines
  • Save money by avoiding duplicate testing
  • Provide clinical decision support tools to improve care and treatment
  • Minimize medication and medical errors
  • Engage consumers about their own personal health information
  • Improve healthcare quality and outcomes.

HIEs reduce the amount of time patients spend completing paperwork and briefing their providers on their medical history. This frees up more time for discussions about health concerns and treatments between the patient and provider. By saving time for patients and providers along the continuum of healthcare delivery, HIEs have the potential to both reduce costs and improve health outcomes.

Health Information Exchange Challenges

The push for nationwide interoperability and improved health data exchange have increased HIE and EHR use. In some cases, organizations have been mandated to make the adoption. But, that doesn’t mean HIE connectivity doesn’t come without challenges.

HIE and Data Security

One of the biggest concerns with HIEs is ensuring health data privacy and security are maintained throughout the entire data exchange process. Participating organizations must follow all federal and state requirements related to data security, but they still need to allow information to be exchanged freely for patient care. While information exchange between EHR systems and HIEs is HIPAA compliant, the growing number of cybersecurity attacks have piqued concern about health data security.

A 2017 Black Book survey confirmed these fears extend to patients. Patients surveyed were nervous their digital health information might be shared beyond their physician and hospital. Furthermore, they are not confident their physician will be able to keep their personal information secure. 69% felt their primary care physician “does not demonstrate enough technology prowess” to reassure them that their data is safe.

Physician Burnout

Another major challenge HIE connectivity brings to the forefront is information overload. Physicians are already experiencing burnout. Providers are further burdened with copious amounts of data flooding them, which can lead to less effective care.

While the Patients Over Paperwork initiative is promising to reduce administrative burden and physician burnout, it doesn’t fully account for the volume of data providers will be faced with.

Many providers have lamented that their EHR system is not built with an easy to use clinical workflow. Adding another step to incorporate data from an HIE is just that – another step.

Regardless of the challenges, EHRs and HIEs aren’t going away. They are a major part of the digitization of healthcare and the shift toward value based care. Learning to utilize these tools effectively will help your organization provide more streamlined, effective patient care. And, of course, we recommend working with an EHR vendor who will help you navigate this process with training, support and best practices!

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In the Aftermath of Hurricanes, Your Choice of EHR Matters

Hurricane satellite image

Names have meaning.  Names have value and communicate more than the syllables pronounced.  In the face of the weather which has pummeled the United States this past month, now these names have meaning:  Harvey.  Irma. Maria. And most recently, Nate.

Per the AMA “Morning Rounds” web news of October 5, 2017, “Damage from Hurricane Maria could lead to drug shortages, federal officials say.”   Having access to real-time inventory at your clinic via a strong and functioning EHR could make all the difference in the world in how your facilities and staff are able to respond in the face of an emergency.  Additionally, individuals who are displaced due to weather will have the impact of the storm on their lives greatly minimized if they have been being served by a clinic with a connected EHR system.

Thus:  Whether or not the disaster directly impacts your region, access to a connected and capable EHR matters.  As the article referenced above details, “there are over 80 plants on Puerto Rico that manufacture pharmaceuticals or medical devices, but . . . manufacturers are facing many problems including unreliable electricity, transportation issues, and so on.”  Your region does not have to sustain a “direct hit” for your AGENCY to sustain a direct hit from a hurricane.

If your local health department has wisely prepared and has already implemented a capable and progressive EHR, then riding out a storm and its after effects becomes an easier proposition for all parties involved.  One practical example: with an EHR, your staff is equipped to deliver uninterrupted services to your clients by maintaining a strong pharmacy or immunization inventory.

So – what’s the name of your EHR?  It matters.  Your EHR should be able to have you real-time prepared both in the face of an impending large-scale emergency, and in its aftermath.  Select an EHR that will be by your side – in preparedness and in secured strength.  Go ahead:  face and weather the storm.  A strong EHR has your back.

The Clock is Ticking for Behavioral Health: It is time to get you connected to your Health Information Exchange (NC HIE)

NC HIE Connection Patagonia Health

If you haven’t heard yet, North Carolina has taken a big step towards connecting and sharing health information for providers who bill to Medicaid. The North Carolina Health Information Exchange (NC HIE) is still enroute to its February 1, 2018 deadline that will require all Medicaid providers to connect to the NC HIE if they want to receive payments for the Medicaid services they provide.

This means that all providers who intend to receive payments from Medicaid will need an Electronic Health Record (EHR) platform that can connect or is already connected with the NC HIE. Starting June 1, 2018, the connect requirement will extend to all entities looking to receive any state funds for delivering health services, which would include managed care organizations and management entities or related groups. This is an important NC Medicaid update and while this particular date is for NC providers only, it is a theme in the future of healthcare. The push for Interconnectivity will be more widespread throughout the nation as information sharing becomes inextricably linked to better patient care and safety.

Many other states are also beginning to require connection to State and Regional HIEs to improve data sharing amongst providers in different health departments, community health centers, and even private practices. Medicaid and Medicare are already providing the catalysts for pushing these connections as they serve patients who typically see many providers.

Not every EHR has the capability of connecting with HIE, so it is important to verify this capability before pulling the trigger on a new software or assuming your current software is willing and able to connect. Any EHR you choose as a Medicaid provider also needs to be federally certified, ensuring your compliance with other Medicaid and Medicare requirements and mandates. Not every EHR is created equal, so be sure to do your due diligence and research before committing to a system that cannot get you where you need to be. To check if an EHR is federally certified, you can go to the Certified Health IT Product List.


For more information on the NC Health Information Exchange, visit their website

For more information on Medicaid requirements in your state, visit your state CMS website

Is the value of participating in Health Information Exchange (HIE) worth it for public health departments?

HIE for Public Health Departments

Is it critical for a public health department to connect to a health information exchange (HIE)?

Over the past several years, the answer to this question has been a confused “I don’t know enough about HIEs to know.” So, what has changed? For one, EHRs, which not only compile data, but also can standardize data fields, are being implemented nationwide. For another, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Meaningful Use Stage 3 will mandate a certain amount of data exchange between healthcare facilities in order to receive incentive payments.

In a previous blog, “Four Ways to Exchange Data with Community Providers,” we outlined four basic methods for exchanging data. This was to help local health departments determine if HIE was the best solution for their needs. If you decided that yes, HIE is the way to go, than you need to know more about HIEs. Which type of HIE should you use and how will you use it?
If you are still in the camp of confusion, probably the best place to start is the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) website. There are various types of HIEs; which type is best for you will depend on many factors, so health departments should dig deep into each option.

HIE organizations (HIOs) vary from state to state and all have many similar offerings. In addition to having the required security for data sharing, there are two ways to use HIOs: pulling patient information from other locations, such as an emergency room doctor pulling health information (e.g. allergies) of a newly admitted patient, or by pushing information out to another healthcare provider, such as delivery of clinical results (e.g. labs). Common use cases for public health departments are vast, for example reporting vaccines administered to immunization registries, sharing prenatal records with hospitals, or Syndromic surveillance of emergency department visits and hospitalizations. While sending information electronically, via a one-to-one connection is certainly possible, it is not very efficient when there is a frequent need for exchanging information.


Choosing an HIE


One key factor in choosing an HIE should be that it operates in compliance with the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN). This NwHIN is a “set of standards, services, and policies that enable the secure exchange of health information over the internet.” It was funded and established by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and helps enable the exchange of information across state lines, from coast to coast. So, if a patient from North Carolina is admitted for care at a hospital in California, that patient’s records can be pulled into the hospital’s EHR, by the provider, so that an appropriate treatment plan can be administered.

As the future of Health IT evolves, the advantages of an HIE connection becomes a necessity, but to implement an HIE connection takes time and money. HIMSS offers a thorough overview and checklist to help public health departments determine if the time to connect is now. And, together with the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO), HIMSS has a Public Health Toolkit that can help determine which HIE to partner with.