Some of us remember the line spoken by the Captain (prison warden) in the 1967 movie Cool Hand Luke, “What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.” And, for far too long that’s just what we’ve had in the healthcare industry. Often, our primary care physician, specialist, hospital and home healthcare provider worked as silos without routinely exchanging information about us. Tests were frequently, and unnecessarily, duplicated, patient records were maintained as paper files and hospital readmissions for the same medical problem were fairly common. But all of that has been changing.
NJII’s Healthcare Delivery Systems iLab has been instrumental in helping the healthcare industry develop electronic health records (EHR) that contain comprehensive patient information including diagnoses, treatments, medications, immunizations and potentially life-threatening allergies. The idea is to share this electronic information among medical service providers through a process called interoperability. Of course with laws like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) on the books it is vital that security provisions are put in place to safeguard the privacy of medical information.
The sharing of patient information among healthcare professionals results in improved patient outcomes because the focus is on the patient and not paperwork, tests are not duplicated because providers are “speaking” to one another and costs are reduced. A recent technological development is the Master Person Index that securely connects and shares patient information under the New Jersey Health Information Network, technology managed by NJII. It offers the ability to seamlessly connect medical records across any and all healthcare providers, ensuring the information is accurate, up-to-date and secure.
But the work of the Healthcare Delivery Systems iLab is not limited to electronic record keeping and the exchange of patient information. The iLab also assists with automated billing and payment systems, data analytics, incentive payment systems and a variety of technologies specifically designed for healthcare providers and focused on improving patient outcomes while controlling costs. One of these is the Patient Centered Medical Home where healthcare delivery moves from a model based on symptoms and illness episodic care to a system of comprehensive coordinated care for children, youth and adults. Patient centeredness refers to an ongoing, active partnership with a personal primary-care clinician who leads a team of professionals dedicated to providing proactive, preventive and chronic-care management through all stages of life.
The Healthcare Delivery Systems iLab works closely with, and has received grants from, the Centers of Medicare and Medicaid Services where payment for medical services is now being focused on successful patient outcomes and hospital readmissions, for example, are greatly reduced or eliminated. The iLab is bringing much needed innovation to the healthcare industry to stem the tide of ever-escalating costs while eliminating inefficiencies, reducing patient frustration, insuring privacy and improving the quality of patient care.