Great Lakes Health Connect Partners with InterSystems, J2, to Achieve Scale & Performance
Growth and a commitment to better serve its users were the two main reasons Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC), a leading U.S. health information exchange (HIE) located in Michigan, switched from its legacy platform to InterSystems HealthShare®.
Over the past nine years, the HIE has grown to be the largest in Michigan. Serving 10 million patients, it connects records in 129 hospitals and 4,000 allied and ancillary care organizations throughout the state.
As it grew, both in organizations served and lives covered, Great Lakes Health Connect quickly realized that the HealthShare platform gave it the scalability and features it needed.
“A key to migrating to HealthShare was gaining more control over how the system works. Having the ability to customize provided flexibility to better meet our customers’ needs,” says GLHC Integration Team Manager Paul Riker.
InterSystems partner, J2 Interactive, managed the migration to HealthShare. According to J2 Principal Consultant Matt Rabidou, it used HealthShare to migrate more than 130 HL7 and CCD interfaces, along with multiple years of backloaded data.
A Move to Simplicity and a Plan for the Future
Already a Health Connect customer, GLHC had been considering the jump to HealthShare for awhile.
The time was right in 2018, when GLHC signed a contract for HealthShare Unified Care Record and Patient Index. It will also be implementing Health Insight to provide population health analytics support in the near future.
“That is the first time I have experienced bringing over that much data,” says Rabidou, adding that J2 backloaded seven years of historical data.
Taking immediate advantage of the system’s flexibility, GLHC configured several HealthShare features, either by itself or with the help of J2.
For example, some practices in the HIE’s network didn’t have electronic medical records. So how do you deliver results to these users?
Riker explains that the solution was an application that emailed test results and other information to providers via a new inbox feature. Groups of users or a practice can share one inbox to coordinate activity across a care team.
“HealthShare has native functionality that allows users to have individual inboxes, but no way for a group to access one inbox,” explains Rabidou.
Still more enhancements came from GLHC itself. Julie Klausing, the HIE’s Vice President of Product, Integration, and Operations, oversaw enhancement of the HealthShare Clinical Viewer user interface. The primary reason for the changes was to make the interface similar to the one to which users had become accustomed, thus minimizing training.
Klausing explains that her team isolated more data from the main record, creating new tabs for discharge summaries, labs, and advanced care documents. The team also added a search functionality.
Information on some of the tabs (lab results, for example) can be downloaded as PDFs for printing.
The HIE is planning additional Clinical Viewer enhancements. Currently all doctors see the same data, but according to Riker, “GLHC recognizes that the types of specific patient data needed by a provider can vary from specialty to specialty.” The next enhancement will be to have special oncology views with data pertinent to the diagnosis and treatment of cancer.
“We have a large variety of customers, and we’re still in the process of listening to them,” Klausing says. “We want to provide a solution that is intuitive and user-friendly.”
Moving Toward a Common Vision
In the beginning of 2019, the GLHC system called the Virtual Integrated Patient Record (VIPR) was for the first time powered by HealthShare. The HIE announced “a significant upgrade” that would “enable GLHC to continue to provide the best technology and customer support for years to come.”
Among the benefits of the new VIPR release powered by HealthShare are:
• Improved patient search
• Better navigation
• Patient information on one page
• Consolidated patient view
• More robust allergy information
• Easy access to documents
• Faster, more responsive interface
• User access management
• GLHC management of the pace of changes
To support GLHC’s ability to independently maintain its HealthShare solution going forward, J2 provided comprehensive documentation and held several hands-on knowledge transfer sessions, handing the reigns over to GLHC for ongoing management to meet the needs of its customers.
Meanwhile, HealthShare is now the engine behind a larger initiative. Like many HIEs, GLHC has expanded its reach beyond its own network by participating in the Patient Centered Data Home (PCDH), an initiative of the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) for the exchange of patient data among HIEs. Clinical data from all PCDH participants becomes part of the comprehensive longitudinal patient record in the HIE where the patient resides.
Incomplete treatment and medical history information is commonplace in healthcare settings — especially when a patient seeks treatment away from home. Records are often available electronically from HIE organizations, but to access that data, the treating medical team needs to know exactly where it is stored. If the patient is unconscious, or forgets about a past episode, those data requests are hit and miss, wasting valuable time and degrading care quality.
“As a partner in the advancement of health information technology to help improve healthcare, GLHC is proud to partner with The Health Collaborative, SHIEC, and other HIEs to advance network sharing across state lines,” says Doug Dietzman, Executive Director of GLHC. “We are proud to participate in efforts that support a system-wide sharing of health information with the aim of improving the quality of healthcare delivery, increasing patient safety, decreasing medical errors, and strengthening the interaction between patients and healthcare providers.”