June 30, 2017
Cheyenne, WY—Cheyenne Regional Medical Center (CRMC) has recently connected its electronic medical record system to the federal eHealth Exchange, the largest secure health-data sharing network in the nation.
Through the eHealth Exchange, CRMC is now able to connect to healthcare organizations and federal agencies that use a variety of electronic medical record systems. This includes the Veteran’s Administration, Department of Defense and Social Security Administration.
“Our hospital and medical clinics share health responsibilities with the local V.A. Medical Center and F.E. Warren Air Force Base,” said Jody Siltzer, CRMC’s director of information technology. “For us to be able to connect with their electronic medical records is incredibly important.”
Currently, many health organizations and agencies can only connect to and share data with other organizations having the same electronic medical record system.
The eHealth Exchange allows organizations to overcome that limitation.
CRMC installed its first electronic medical record system, Epic, four years ago. Since then, the amount of data being securely shared through Epic has grown steadily, Siltzer said.
“Once we had Epic on board, we could connect to the many other organizations nationwide and worldwide that had Epic, but not to organizations with other electronic medical records,” Siltzer said.
In 2016 CRMC exchanged nearly 300,000 medical records with other Epic organizations in 48 states. That included 900 hospitals; 1,090 emergency departments and 26,160 medical clinics.
“Having Epic has allowed us to greatly enhance our ability to access vital medical information securely and quickly, which can make a significant difference to a patient’s care and outcome,” Siltzer said.
But the success of Epic highlighted the need for CRMC to be able to connect to other electronic medical record systems, Siltzer said.
“By connecting to the eHealth Exchange, CRMC can now securely share vital information with organizations that have different electronic medical records systems,” Siltzer said.
Current eHealth Exchange participants include hospitals, large medical provider networks, pharmacies, regional health information exchanges and many federal agencies, representing more than 40 percent of all U.S. hospitals, thousands of medical groups, more than 8,000 pharmacies and 100 million patients, according to the website Health IT.gov.
Another benefit of being connected to the eHealth Exchange is that it allows CRMC to electronically process disability claims, which is a huge time savings, Siltzer said.
“Because of our connection to the eHealth Exhange, the Social Security Administration is able to electronically query our electronic medical record system and process disability claims in less than three days,” Siltzer said. “Before, we had to submit paper claims, which could take up to three months to be reviewed and processed.”
In a related effort, CRMC has also connected to Carequality, a private effort that, like the eHealth Exchange, allows healthcare organizations to connect existing and future data-sharing networks to each other.
“Carequality was developed by healthcare technology experts from across the nation to ensure that health systems and medical providers can securely share their health data, now and moving forward,” Siltzer said.
CRMC is only the second healthcare organization in Wyoming to join Carequality.
“Being able to access a complete medical record in moments, instead of over a period of hours or days, can provide potentially life-saving information and outcomes,” Siltzer said. “That, ultimately, is really what this work is all about.”