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How to Make It Count

Scott Mace, for HealthLeaders Media, November 13, 2013
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This article appears in the November issue of HealthLeaders magazine.

As meaningful use stage 2 begins its rollout, providers are trying to figure out not only how to share information with patients and each other, but also how to make it count toward fulfilling requirements of the next phase of the incentive program.

George Hickman, executive vice president and CIO of Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center, faces two immediate problems.

First, although Albany Medical's EHR has implemented the Direct protocol required in stage 2, as yet he has no providers in his service area with which to exchange patient information, which is also required of all providers.

"I have Direct residing in production environments for both Allscripts and Siemens" EHRs, he says. But Hickman compares it to a provider in days gone by who had the only fax machine in the region.

"I'm waiting on other people to get fax machines, turn them on, and tell me the telephone number so we can send each other faxes and have meaningful exchanges with other referring partners for the benefit of patients," Hickman explains, using the analogy.

Albany Medical is working with Glens Falls Hospital, an hour's drive north in the Adirondacks, because there is significant referral activity between the two organizations, says Hickman. Glens Falls runs an EHR from Epic and plans to connect the two using technology from MedAllies being deployed by the New York eHealth Collaborative, he adds.