Verizon and MEDfx, a leading provider of health information technology, have successfully implemented a pilot program enabling health care providers that still use paper records to easily convert them to a digital format and share them with other authorized providers.
The program addresses long-standing issues that have blocked the widespread adoption of electronic health care records: the complexity and expense that health care providers - especially small practices and individual physicians - face in adopting an electronic system, and the incompatibility of many health IT systems. In addition, the program is one of the first successful health information exchange-based demonstrations to integrate two key federal government health IT initiatives designed to improve care management through secure, two-way exchange of patient health information.
The participants in the pilot are Dominion Medical Associates, an independent minority-owned physician practice in Richmond, Va.; CenVaNet, a health care provider network with 900 physicians and 11 not-for-profit hospitals serving central Virginia; and MedVirginia, a community-based health information exchange.
Under the pilot, Dominion Medical Associates scans paper-based care-management documents of diabetes patients and sends the documents over the Internet to CenVaNet care managers, via a MEDfx-provided physician portal. The portal uses a set of common standards and protocols to digitize and securely transfer the care-management documents, making them accessible on a wide variety of health IT systems.
The data is then tagged and stored in the MedVirginia Solution® health information exchange. As a result, care managers from Dominion Medical Associates-CenVaNet-MedVirginia are now able to share, store and retrieve encrypted patient data and better coordinate patient care for the treatment of diabetes and other chronic conditions.
Verizon is providing the essential certificate authority - digital identifiers that verify trusted senders and recipients - to help prevent data from being shared with unauthorized personnel.
In addition, the digitized records can be printed out and stored in Dominion Medical Associates' current paper-based records system and easily migrated to an electronic health record system once Dominion implements its platform.
"This pilot program has great significance because many health care providers still use paper records due to the time and expense involved in deploying electronic record-keeping platforms," said Dr. Peter Tippett, vice president - security and industry solutions, Verizon. "By demonstrating that federal guidelines for health IT adoption and secure electronic data exchange actually work, this pilot program is leading the way to the widespread adoption of electronic medical records and the transformation of the U.S. health care system."
The pilot leverages two initiatives spearheaded by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology:
- The Direct Project, a set of standards, protocols and policies, which specifies a simple, secure, scalable method for participants to send authenticated, encrypted health information directly to known, trusted recipients over the Internet.
- NwHIN Exchange, a suite of open-source, downloadable software packages, including a gateway and enterprise services platform that enables regional, state and federal health information exchanges to interconnect and securely share health information.
Shannon Lodge, director-program development, CenVaNet, said: "By working with Dominion Medical Associates on this trial, we are enabling the physician practice to deliver better care coordination for patients while maintaining current workflows and processes. It is also providing tangible insights into the value of sharing health information digitally and is helping pave the way for Dominion Medical Associates' migration to electronic health records."
Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions offers a comprehensive portfolio of managed, IT and consulting services for the health care industry to help transform patient care delivery, enhance access to care and better manage costs.
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