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Physician Use of Data Skyrockets When It's Available in Real Time

Analysis  |  By Rene Letourneau  
   March 23, 2016

A clinical repository of Medicaid patients' medical histories… "gives us a full 360-degree view of a patient's medical care, their medications, immunizations, tests, and procedures," says the University of Mississippi Medical Center's chief health information officer.

Provider organizations across the country are continuously searching for strategies to improve quality and outcomes while also lowering the cost of care. 

For hospitals and health systems located in states that have not expanded Medicaid coverage, there is a particular need to focus on reining in costs and enhancing services for low-income populations. 

Improving Access to Timely Data

That’s one of the major incentives behind the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s decision to work with the Mississippi Division of Medicaid on creating access to real-time data for Medicaid beneficiaries, says John Showalter, MD, UMMC’s chief health information officer. 

Finding ways to treat the Medicaid population more effectively has been “at the forefront of our minds,” Showalter says. “We really wanted to work together since UMMC is DOM’s largest biller in the state. We’ve really been working together on population health strategies.”

Through a partnership with MedeAnalytics and Epic, UMMC and DOM have become the first health system and state Medicaid agency in the country to share real-time clinical data. 

DOM began working on this initiative years ago and, in 2014, rolled out an enterprise master patient index and a single patient identifier. After analyzing and removing duplications from more than a decade of medical records, DOM and its vendor partners developed a unique longitudinal patient record for over 750,000 Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program beneficiaries. 

“After years of working with our technology partners to build a foundation consisting of an EMPI and clinical data repository, we can now instantly share patient summaries with external stakeholders, such as UMMC. This real-time access to beneficiary data will improve insight into beneficiary health trends, empower better care decisions and much more,” Rita Rutland, DOM deputy administrator of information technology management, said in a prepared statement. 

Providing a More Complete Patient History

By having data that gives physicians a complete view of the patient’s medical history, Showalter says, UMMC will be in a better position to achieve its population health goals. 

“The clinical repository… gives us a full 360-degree view of a patient’s medical care, their medications, immunizations, tests, and procedures,” he says.  

“We believe that physicians who are armed with this data can make better decisions about care delivery and can help drive the triple aim” of creating a better patient experience, improving quality, and reducing the per capita cost of healthcare. 

Prior to the launch of the real-time data system, UMMC physicians had access to a portal that housed patient information, but it was not user-friendly and, therefore, was not accessed very often, Showalter says. With the new system, the data is housed within UMMC’s electronic health record and all a physician needs to do is click on a tab that indicates more information is available on the patient. 

Rene Letourneau is a contributing writer at HealthLeaders Media.

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