Houston has grown to become the third largest city in the United States, renowned for its healthcare institutions — Memorial Hermann, MD Anderson Cancer Center, and Houston Methodist, to name a few.
These institutions share their medical records through the Greater Houston Healthconnect, a health information exchange (HIE) with all the major area health systems and the majority of physicians contracted as members.
“Our mission is to assist in the coordination of care throughout Southeast Texas,” says Greater Houston Healthconnect CEO Nick Bonvino, who has significantly expanded the HIE’s membership. For more than eight million people in 24 counties, the not-for-profit also provides diagnostic image sharing, real-time notifications, and the secure exchange of healthcare information via Direct Secure Messaging.
Connecting all the electronic medical records (EMRs) in the vast and diversified healthcare system of Greater Houston is no easy feat, given the number and variety of top-tier EMRs, as well as homespun and legacy systems.
“This underscores the importance of our core mission to connect disparate systems across all venues of care,” Bonvino says.
Not surprisingly, the information management and interoperability challenges grew with the membership and volume of disparate systems and EMRs. The interoperability platform Greater Houston Healthconnect had selected when it first began struggled to meet current and future challenges.
Success with InterSystems, J2
Before coming to Greater Houston Healthconnect, Bonvino had worked with HIEs in other states, where he evaluated InterSystems technology. When the Texas HIE began a procurement process for a new platform, Bonvino was sure to include InterSystems.
Greater Houston Healthconnect selected InterSystems HealthShare® to connect the disparate systems among its members and uniquely identify patients represented differently across many providers. For the implementation, it contracted with J2 Interactive, a software development and IT consulting firm that is a longtime InterSystems partner.
“Platform migrations are never easy, but J2 Interactive, in close partnership with InterSystems and Greater Houston Healthconnect, was able to complete a successful migration with an ambitious timeline with no service disruption to existing stakeholders,” adds Mickey Yalon, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at J2 Interactive.
A Unified Solution
HealthShare seamlessly connects 70 percent of the region’s physician community and 95 percent of the hospital market to the same unified health record, so providers have an accurate, straightforward view of nearly every patient in the Greater Houston area.
“HealthShare allows us to coordinate care delivery to millions of people in Greater Houston, and is essential in disaster preparedness, as we proved during Hurricane Harvey,” says Bonvino.
There are several ways this technology has impacted the community, according to Bonvino. It has had a direct impact on quality, efficiency, and patient safety. With a complete picture of a patient’s medical history at the point of care, physicians can better assess, diagnose, and create care plans that address a patient’s health issues without unnecessary tests, procedures, or admissions.
Bonvino describes HealthShare as “the core infrastructure of our business” and is looking for other ways to leverage the technology — for example, to prevent hospital readmissions and promote value-based care.