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4/26/2011
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Chicago HIE To Host 9.4 Million Healthcare Records

Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council will use Microsoft, CSC, and HealthUnity technology in what's planned to be the nation's largest metropolitan health information exchange.

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The MetroChicago Health Information Exchange (HIE), which will help clinicians share the digitized medical records of more than 9.4 million patients, is being constructed by the Metropolitan Chicago Healthcare Council (MCHC) with the help of Microsoft, CSC, and HealthUnity.

Details of MCHC's plans, which were announced Monday, reveal that the MetroChicago HIE will use Microsoft's Amalga, an enterprise health intelligence platform, to aggregate and present a unified view of patient medical history data at the time and point of care.

Through Amalga, the MetroChicago HIE can organize healthcare information electronically across organizations, rapidly bringing together current data from a wide variety of clinics and hospital departments.

Billed as the largest metropolitan HIE in the nation, the exchange will also use CSC's project management, implementation, hosting, and support services.

Software components from HealthUnity will work in combination with Amalga to provide bidirectional communication between electronic health records and other clinical application systems.

Officials at MCHC said the first priority of the MetroChicago HIE will be to build use cases that are aligned with meaningful use incentives, as outlined in the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

MCHC said the goal is to quickly implement functionality that offers value to the largest number of stakeholders. Initially, the HIE will add patient information from clinical summaries and emergency department (ED) systems. This will allow authorized healthcare providers to see a consolidated view of the patient's medical history, with input regarding test results, problems, and medication information from other providers across the region.

The available information from the ED will also support public health reporting to monitor emerging outbreaks of influenza or disease patterns for early surveillance across the MetroChicago region. More than 66 hospitals and major outpatient care organizations have submitted letters of intent to MCHC to participate in the HIE. Participating organizations will fund the HIE, as opposed to short-term grant funding from government or other outside entities.

Officials at MCHC also noted that by driving the flow of data across healthcare organizations, the MetroChicago HIE expects positive outcomes due to more comprehensive views of patient information. These include decreased costs from fewer redundant tests across care settings, reduction in time spent gathering information about patients, and greater efficiency in identifying patients requiring ongoing ambulatory care.

Mary Anne Kelly, VP of MCHC, said her organization is charting a new course with the MetroChicago HIE. "Seventy percent of hospitals in the Chicago metro area have already become founding members of the HIE, which is a testament to area healthcare organizations' stalwart commitment to improving quality and patient safety."

MCHC is a membership and service association comprising more than 150 hospitals and healthcare organizations.

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