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Statewide Virtual Health Record to Improve Clinical Data Communication between Healthcare Providers: Utah

Rationale / Objectives

  • The Utah Health Information Network wanted to improve interoperability and clinical data exchange among healthcare providers regionally and statewide. They wanted to facilitate access to patient information at point of care to enable better care coordination and quality improvement. They hoped that data standardization would reduce administrative costs.

Project/Program Description & Major Achievements

  • UHIN expanded their existing network (UHINet) to allow for the exchange not only of administrative data but also clinical data of consenting patients between insurers, providers and other stakeholders. A virtual health record was established in parallel to the existing EHR. For healthcare providers without EHR infrastructure, a virtual health record accessible via a secure online portal was created. More than 8 million clinical messages had been exchanged by the project’s completion. [1][2][3][4]

Lessons Learned

  • It is possible to connect healthcare providers and stakeholders even if they do not have EHR capabilities. The cost of the infrastructure required to establish the HIE was covered by federal funding, the securing of which was considered a critical success factor. The evaluation of this undertaking should be an ongoing process. [4]

Further Description

The Utah Health Information Network (UHIN) needed to improve the exchange of clinical data across the state of Utah to improve patient care. UHIN wanted to help healthcare providers overcome the hurdle of significant upfront costs for the IT infrastructure necessary to participate in a health information exchange. This Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ)-funded UHIN (Utah Health Information Network) health information exchange project ran from 2004 to 2012. It was instrumental in upgrading UHIN’s administrative data exchange network to include secure statewide clinical data exchange between authorized healthcare providers. This was facilitated by creating a virtual health record that made access to the network possible for all providers, regardless of their IT infrastructure capabilities. UHIN received funding of $5,000,000 from ARHQ. Their expanded network used HL7 (Health Level 7), DICOM (Digital Imaging and Communications in Medicine), NCPDP (National Council for Prescription Drug Programs) and PDF (Portable Document Format) standards for sending and receiving data and clinical messages. ARHQ covered the upfront IT infrastructure costs of connecting to the cHIE (Clinical Health Information Exchange). UHIN successfully developed a system of exchanging prescription drug, radiology, laboratory data and other clinical information between unrelated providers. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5]

Major Achievements

Metric Result Detail
Number of healthcare organizations connected 13 By August 2011 [4]
Number of clinical messages exchanged >8 million By September 2011 [4]