Southeast Michigan Beacon Community turns to cloud-based technology to manage its health information exchange, with initial upload of 29,000 medical records.

Nicole Lewis, Contributor

April 4, 2012

3 Min Read

10 Top Medical Practice Management Software Systems

10 Top Medical Practice Management Software Systems

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The Southeast Michigan Beacon Community (SEMBC) has turned to Covisint's cloud-based technology to host the BeaconLink2Health, a health information exchange that will enable healthcare providers across southeast Michigan to access electronic health record (EHR) information.

BeaconLink2Health will initially upload the medical records of more than 29,000 diabetic patients that receive care from a variety of healthcare delivery organizations that are members of the BeaconLink2Health exchange. These organizations include six health systems, 163 providers, 36 practice sites, and seven community health centers.

The SEMBC is one of 17 Beacon Communities established in the U.S. by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). Detroit was awarded a $16 million federal cooperative agreement from the ONC in September to fund the initiative.

To help make measurable improvements in healthcare quality and efficiency, officials at the SEMBC said their plans to design the BeaconLink2Health exchange included looking for a technological infrastructure that would aggregate patient health records from a variety of data sources across the community and display the information in a standard message format.

[ Most of the largest healthcare data security and privacy breaches have involved lost or stolen mobile computing devices. For possible solutions, see 7 Tools To Tighten Healthcare Data Security. ]

Covisint's accountable care technology will help healthcare providers report and analyze the data as well as maintain continuity of care documents (CCD), use evidence-based clinical decision support systems, and improve the delivery of medical records to the provider at the point of care.

Furthermore, a cloud-based system can deliver a more-complete and comprehensive set of services that will maintain the medical records of large swaths of the patient population afflicted with a variety of medical conditions, according to SEMBC's HIT/HIE director, Bruce Wiegand. "BeaconLink2Health will use the cloud to provide a community-wide clinical data repository (CDR) to store the data, code-set translation tools to normalize the data, a community portal with federated single sign-on technology to improve access to the data, alerts that warn physicians about abnormal test results, care coordination tools to track the data, and population health reporting and analytics to evaluate and measure the data," Wiegand told InformationWeek Healthcare.

Officials at Covisinct, a Compuware company, said healthcare organizations need cloud computing technology to help physicians and other care providers connect, communicate, and collaborate with their healthcare team members.

"BeaconLink2Health participants will send standard format patient summaries (HL7 CCDs) that include labs (not images, but results reports), medication histories, diagnosis, problem lists, etc.," David McGuffie, Covisint's president and COO told InformationWeek Healthcare. "We will maintain a clinical data repository to support the calculation of care gaps and patient alerts, which will be sent to the physicians' existing systems."

Although recent research indicates providers are reluctant to adopt cloud technology, McGuffie predicts that as health IT managers increasingly understand the value of cloud-based services, more of them will use the cloud to manage and move sensitive information, especially through health information exchanges.

"The healthcare industry increasingly recognizes that the only way to achieve the quality and cost benefits associated with the exchange of private health information is via the cloud," McGuffie said. "Making sure that the providers are compliant to industry standards and provide the high levels of security to protect private health information is key."

The 2012 InformationWeek Healthcare IT Priorities Survey finds that grabbing federal incentive dollars and meeting pay-for-performance mandates are the top issues facing IT execs. Find out more in the new, all-digital Time To Deliver issue of InformationWeek Healthcare. (Free registration required.)

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