A Vital Tool: How Physicians Can Use the HIE

By Jef Sneider, MD, Chief Medical Officer, HealtheConnections
Tuesday, August 23, 2016

My patients are important to me. I want to know all about their health histories, from medications and allergies to past procedures or conditions, so I can provide them with the best possible care when they come to my office for a visit. To make sure that I have quick, secure access to my patients’ health records when I need them, I use HealtheConnections’ health information exchange (HIE).

Whether a doctor has an electronic health record (EHR) or not, HealtheConnections can be used to his or her advantage. Approximately 150 different medical facilities are sending medical information directly to the HIE. This creates a comprehensive view of a patient’s medical record, such as medication lists, problem lists, immunizations, images and recent encounters, all of which are available to other participating physicians and emergency personnel when needed. Training is also available for all participating organizations, whether they use EHR or not, to allow their physicians or other clinical staff to look up patient information, receive alerts or communicate with others securely using myConnections, the HealtheConnections portal to the HIE and other featured services. All that is needed is a computer with an internet connection.

As an internist, I use the HIE and other HealtheConnections services on a daily basis. My staff and I will prepare for each incoming patient using Patient Lookup, opening the patient’s HIE record — as long as we have the patient’s signed consent — to scan for any recent changes and pull up information that I plan to discuss during the visit. When I need to view an X-ray, diagnostic-quality images can be accessed on demand and compared side by side. The image retrieval and comparisons can be done right within Patient Lookup in a matter of minutes, so my staff no longer have to reach out to the radiology centers to request that the images be sent to me, and my patients aren’t burdened with remembering to bring along their images on discs. Finding lab reports and discharge summaries is also as simple as checking myResults, where I have access to any report or result for my patient, as long as I am named on it.

In addition, patient reports are delivered directly to my EHR through Results Delivery, where they are stored and ready for me to view. Even if my patients travel outside of Central New York to other parts of the state for care, Statewide Patient Record Lookup makes it possible to search for and obtain their health records from systems across the state. After each patient has been seen, I can follow up on the transition of care by sending protected emails through Direct Mail to specialists or consultants. Our communications are HIPAA-compliant and provide a faster, more secure method of exchanging patient health data.

I know that HealtheConnections’ services have played a significant role in improving the quality of care I deliver to my patients. The HIE is a vital tool that can be adapted to the routines of practices and hospitals alike and, if used by all healthcare professionals in Central New York, could help lower healthcare costs and improve the health of all populations in our region.

Are you HealtheConnected? For more information about how HealtheConnections can benefit you and your organization, contact our Provider Engagement team at 315-671-2241, ext. 5, or check out our website at healtheconnections.org.