When Hunterdon Healthcare joined forces with a larger neighboring health system, they knew they had the opportunity to lower costs and improve care for patients in western New Jersey. The two organizations opened a collaborative radiology imaging center that promised to cut wait times and bring high-quality services to more patients in their shared community.
Achieving that noble goal would be impossible without smooth data exchange — and interoperability was easier said than done. But by taking advantage of HealthShare Patient Index and Unified Care Record, Hunterdon avoided the usual pitfalls that health systems may encounter when they unite, for a single project or a lasting merger.
Sharing data and optimizing workflows throughout one organization can be challenging. Even a one-hospital system like Hunterdon had a web of two electronic health records (EHR) systems and 100 clinical applications across its 60-plus owned and affiliated facilities — complexity that created the risk of duplicate health records and communication breakdowns. Multiply the moving pieces by (at least) two, and Hunterdon’s data team knew that aligning its technologies with those of a partner could amplify any risk.
Fortunately, the same technology that helps Hunterdon foster seamless data exchange internally also facilitated its external work.
Years before the collaboration, Hunterdon and its partner of many years, InterSystems, used HealthShare Patient Index to uniquely identify patients between its two different acute and ambulatory EHRs. Each one used a different patient identifier. The move enabled Hunterdon to know each patient who entered the system, regardless of address or name changes.
From there, Hunterdon leveraged HealthShare’s Unified Care Record to consolidate EHR data, imaging, and other information into a single place that clinicians can access instantly, throughout the whole system.
When it came time for the two health systems to launch their collaborative radiology imaging center, Hunterdon’s technologies again proved invaluable. HealthShare enabled the organizations to sync scheduling protocols to maximize efficiency. The data platform also integrated with the unique patient identifiers used in the partner system’s EHR, so patients could be sure that their caregivers had the data required for effective clinical decision making.
“We are able to pass orders and scheduling messages back and forth between their system, our central scheduling system, and our ambulatory EHR system,” Robin Deal, manager of data integration engineering at Hunterdon Healthcare, explains. “That would not have been possible without the master patient index.”
And that’s the foundation that every strong healthcare partnership needs.
This story originally appeared the HealthShare Connections News Flash No.7 – October 26, 2021