HOUSTON (August 23, 2011)

Innovative IT Tool Underpins Clinically-IIntegrated and Accountable Patient Care Model

Memorial Hermann Health System has launched an innovative program that significantly improves transitions of care, safety and quality by putting patient health data at the fingertips of authorized caregivers. Memorial Hermann Information Exchange (MHiE) uses a secure, encrypted electronic network to integrate and house patients' digital medical records so they are easily accessible to authorized MHiE members. MHiE, the first health information exchange of its kind in Houston, is a free service for patients.

"When a patient needs medical attention, the attending physician needs the most up-to-date medical history right away," said David Bradshaw, Chief Information, Planning and Marketing Officer at Memorial Hermann. "A solution like MHiE gives a caregiver immediate access to a patient's health history and clinical data, which can facilitate better treatment decisions and prevent adverse drug reactions or costly and redundant tests."

  • MHiE integrates the silos of health data that exist between doctors' offices, diagnostic testing facilities, outpatient services, emergency rooms, hospitals, home health agencies and post acute providers. It consists of three components:
  • MHiE Clinical Information Exchange gives authorized users access to patients' health information contributed by all Exchange members; aggregated Continuity of Care Documents (CCD's) creates an integrated patient record.
  • MHiE Diagnostic Test Orders and Results, an exchange for outpatient lab orders, lab and radiology results, radiology image links and transcribed documents, makes Memorial Hermann diagnostic test results immediately available to authorized caregivers.
  • MHiE Image Gateway provides MHiE members with secure, 24/7 access to review and share medical images within minutes of upload. Relevant diagnostic images are available to caregivers as a patient moves between different venues of care. Having image access prevents the need for redundant imaging tests and reduces overexposure radiation risks.

A future component of MHiE is the Patient Health Record (PHR), which will enable patients to communicate directly with their physicians and monitor their own medical information via a secure Internet portal.

A number of organizations are already realizing the benefits of MHiE's various functions, including Richmond Bone & Joint Clinic, Physicians at Sugar Creek, Memorial Hermann Medical Group, and Memorial Hermann Hospitals and Imaging Centers.

Juliet Breeze, MD, chief executive officer of Richmond Bone & Joint Clinic, says the ability for physicians to share a patient's medical information - via a system like MHiE - will lead to an earlier diagnosis, quicker treatment schedule and an overall safer experience for patients. "It's extremely clear that we have a communication breakdown in our current healthcare system, especially as patients move from their Primary Care Physician to a specialist. The information often gets lost in transition, which can result in delayed care, redundancy in medical procedures, and much worse. MHiE makes healthcare more efficient. It's a huge step in the right direction for medicine.

Patients must opt-in to the Clinical Information Exchange by signing a consent form during visits with each of their healthcare providers and healthcare organizations. Additionally, because involvement is voluntary, patients also can opt-out at anytime.

According to David Bauer, M.D., Director of Memorial Family Medicine Residency Program, 96 percent of the patients who have been asked to participate in the Clinical Information Exchange component of MHiE have elected to join.

"When I'm talking to patients about MHiE, I ask them to imagine a trip to the emergency room, one where they cannot communicate their medical history to the attending physician," said Dr. Bauer. "How much more successful would their care be if the physician had immediate access to information on their current medications, drug allergies, and recent medical procedures? This real-world example illustrates the value of a health information exchange and in my experience, most patients agree."

MHiE provides the critical information technology (IT) tools that will underpin the transformation of Memorial Hermann toward becoming an accountable care organization, focused on quality, cost and information exchange. "Working with our partners, we will advance our growth as a physician-hospital organization that is responsible for managing the total health of our patients," said Dan Wolterman, CEO and President of Memorial Hermann.

MHiE plays a critical role in the success of Memorial Hermann Physician Network's (MHMD) patient-centered "medical home" initiative called Advanced Primary Care Practices, or Advanced PCPs. Christopher Lloyd, CEO of MHMD, indicated that "the availability of clinical information is a key component in supporting our affiliated physicians in this effort."

MHiE enables Advanced PCPs to share patient information to better coordinate patient care. It also reduces the chance of medical errors and redundant testing, thus lowering the cost of healthcare. In addition, it provides a mechanism for patients to actively participate in the decision-making process with their primary care physician to make sure their healthcare goals and expected outcomes are being achieved.

Memorial Hermann's early adoption and aggressive utilization of IT tools to promote improved patient care and safety, operational efficiency, data collection, and to reduce healthcare costs, is the primary reason why it has been recognized again as one of the nation's Most Wired hospitals by Hospitals & Health Networks magazine. This year marks the seventh straight year of being named a Most Wired Survey winner for the healthcare system.

"Innovations in technology are part of the answer in improving the country's healthcare system," added Bradshaw. "Memorial Hermann will continue to look for ways to expand IT capabilities to improve patient care and deliver value to our patients and stakeholders."