Health First HIE Consolidates Patient Data

By  //  March 20, 2012

Q&A With Christi Rushnell

THE DOCTOR WILL SEE YOU NOW – but will they have all the information needed to accurately diagnose what ails you?

If your physician participates in the Health First family of hospitals, clinics or out-patient centers, the answer is yes. As of December 2011, Health First affiliates took a giant step towards sharing important patient health information electronically.

The purpose of a health information exchange (HIE) is to electronically gather clinical information from multiple information systems and consolidate the data into a single summary page available through a secure computer application.

The Health First HIE™ is an electronic way for a patient’s physicians to access medical record information without waiting for the paper records to be sent to their office.

Space Coast Medicine sat down with Christi Rushnell, Vice President of Information Technology at Health First, to discuss the Health First HIE™ and the benefits for Brevard County residents.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE:  What is Health First Health Information Exchange™ (Health First HIE™)?

MS. RUSHNELL: Health First HIE™” is an electronic version of a patient’s medical record information.  Since it is available via a secure computer program, physicians can access patient records without waiting for the paper records to be sent to their office.  The application software is completely secure and confidential and approved providers must go through multiple security steps to view a patient’s information.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE:  When will the “Health First HIE™” go into effect?

MS. RUSHNELL: Health First hospital Emergency Departments and select physician groups started using the application in January of this year.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE: What sort of patient information goes into the Health First HIE™?

MS. RUSHNELL: Information that can improve the speed and effectiveness of a patient’s care, including medications; lab results; allergies; radiology reports; past hospital visit information; physician documents; patient demographics and more.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE:   How does participating in Health First HIE™ benefit me as a patient?

MS. RUSHNELL: When physicians can quickly access your most recent medical records and other pertinent details, they are able to provide you the highest level of care safely and efficiently—especially in emergency situations.  Health First HIE™ ensures your healthcare providers have more of the information they need when and where they need it.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE: Why is Health First becoming involved in Health First HIE™?

MS. RUSHNELL: We realize that it will help us provide the best-possible care for our patients, which is what we want to do. Transitioning to electronic records is a direction in which all healthcare providers are moving. It just makes sense.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE:How can I be assured that my information is secure and protected?

MS. RUSHNELL: Health First takes stringent measures to help ensure your information remains private and secure. In order to view your records, for example, Health First Associates will need to submit unique logins and passwords.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE:Who will my information be shared with?

MS. RUSHNELL: In the beginning, your information will be shared only within our network of Health First Facilities and credentialed providers, associated physicians, Health First inpatient/outpatient & laboratory facilities and Health First Health Plan providers, as well as with accreditation bodies and regulatory agencies when applicable. The goal is to eventually make your information accessible to approved healthcare providers beyond Brevard County.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE: Are only Health First Associates and Affiliates part of Health First HIE™?

MS. RUSHNELL: While the Health First HIE™ network will initially be available only to Health First Facilities, credentialed providers and associated Physicians, it will slowly open up and include healthcare providers outside of  Health First—with the goal of eventually expanding accessibility well beyond Brevard County.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE:  What do you mean by my ”information”?

MS. RUSHNELL: Any medications you may be taking, drug allergies, lab results—pretty much the sort of information we’re going to need before we can provide treatment. However, we will get it quickly rather than having to wait for information to be faxed or delivered via the US Mail system.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE:Does it cost anything to have my information in Health First HIE™?

MS. RUSHNELL:No. Patients are provided the service free of charge.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE: What do I have to do in order to participate in Health First HIE™? Is there anything I need to learn?

MS. RUSHNELL: Simply inform your healthcare provider that you would like to have your information available in the Health First HIE™ and sign the release authorization provided. As a patient, you do not have to learn anything new.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE: How will my care be affected if I choose not to participate?

MS. RUSHNELL: Participation in the HIE is 100% optional.  Each patient has the ability to “opt out” of the system during patient registration. If you choose not to participate in the Health First HIE™, the quality of care you receive will not be affected. Your doctors will still be able to access the information they need to treat you using the old process.  The difference will be in the convenience, efficiency and speed at which they are able to access it.  .

SPACE COAST MEDICINE: How do I know if my physician is part of Health First HIE™?

MS. RUSHNELL: All Health First Physicians are automatically included in the Health First HIE™.  Other physicians in the area should notify you if they are participating. They’ll usually give you a notice when you check in for your visit.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE: Do all of my doctors have to be part of the Health First HIE™?

MS. RUSHNELL: In order for your current treating physician to view all of the most relevant information online, yes. However, at this time, it is not mandatory that physicians participate in Health First HIE™.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE: Will records dating from ”birth” to ”present” be included in the Health First HIE™? If not, can I add them?

MS. RUSHNELL: The Health First HIE™ is designed to allow your doctors to access your most recent records.  Any treatment you’ve received since December 2011 will be included as long as your doctors and/or facilities are part of the system.  The system will not include earlier records at this time.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE: Will I have access to my own information in the Health First HIE™?

MS. RUSHNELL: The Health First HIE™ is for physician use.  Patients of Health First Physicians may have access to their health care information electronically through the My Health First Patient Portal.

SPACE COAST MEDICINE: Will my information be used outside of Brevard County? Florida? The United States?

MS. RUSHNELL: The goal is to eventually make your information available to approved healthcare providers well beyond Brevard County, so your medical records can be assessed in the case of an emergency when you travel outside of the area.

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