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When Will Healthcare be Interoperable?

By Paul Black  
   September 01, 2017

While interoperability has been in the spotlight for years, we’re not where we want to be yet. But Tennessee-based Holston Medical Group has made real progress connecting physician groups for better patient care.

At every industry gathering I attend, we see evidence that health IT is not fully interoperable yet, even after years of dedicated effort, regulation and expense. For hospitals and physician offices that are grappling with this complex issue while managing waiting rooms full of patients, there is frustration. But there is also hope.

Hopeful signs for interoperability at Holston Medical Group

We can take inspiration from medical groups that have made real progress toward interoperability. Holston Medical Group, based in Kingsport, Tennessee, is one of these success stories.

Holston Medical Group helped form a physician-led Accountable Care Organization (ACO), Qualuable Medical Professionals, and a healthcare transformation company, OnePartner, which offers a private health information exchange (HIE). Together, these organizations are connecting independent physician groups for better patient care and improving the overall health of their communities.

When Holston Medical Group helped establish the ACO in 2013, one of the top priorities was finding a way to help medical groups with different systems to work together. It needed to normalize all of that data from disparate electronic health records (EHRs) to give clinicians access to complete patient information.

That’s where OnePartner comes in. It’s another collaborative effort, this one providing The OnePartner HIE Community Record, powered by the dbMotion™ health information exchange platform. It enables secure, safe and actionable access to information across the continuum within each provider’s native workflow.

To participate in the ACO, physicians contractually agree to also participate in the HIE and share their data with the community of providers. Regional participation in the HIE has brought together 750,000 patient records and enables the exchange of 200,000 clinical and financial messages every day.

The effects of data-driven decisions and connected care

With more community-based, comprehensive, accurate patient data available at the point of care, providers can create better care plans. Holston Medical Group is using patient data to succeed in several areas, including these examples:

  • Stratifying patients with chronic conditions – Holston Medical Group physicians use data to identify and address various conditions, including the top four disease states in the population: hypertension, diabetes, depression and asthma. Care teams analyze where they can have the greatest impact to improve outcomes for better patient care.
  • Extensivist Clinic provides inpatient care in an outpatient setting – To more effectively manage patients with complex conditions, Holston Medical Group created a care setting in which patients could receive specialized interventions and avoid hospitalization. Access to the HIE is especially important here, providing real-time updates on information such as medication changes, ancillary services and referrals.
  • Launching precision medicine solution – At the end of 2016, Holston Medical Group announced it would use 2bPrecise – an EHR-agnostic, clinical-genomic solution – to help physicians find, select, order and receive genomic tests for patients. It plans to use the solution to improve quality of mental and behavioral healthcare and treat patients more individually with a new level of diagnostic precision.

These examples demonstrate what dedicated clinicians can accomplish with open and interoperable technologies. And while the industry is not satisfied with its current level of interoperability, signs of progress should give us hope and keep us moving forward.

Generating value with interoperability

The shift from fee-for-service to value-based financial models raises the stakes for interoperability. Providers can earn more if they solve the technical challenges that obstruct collaboration and coordination and participate in clinically integrated networks.

Holston Medical Group’s efforts to enable physician groups to come together and learn from each other’s strengths are helping those practices to maintain independence and generate value. Qualuable is one of the top-rated ACOs in the country. It has generated more than $40 million in shared savings over three performance years.

When will healthcare be interoperable? In some corners of the world, such as Holston Medical Group’s home base in Tennessee, we see hopeful signs of progress. When healthcare as an industry embraces open and interoperable technologies, only then will we experience truly connected care.

Chief Executive Officer

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