Doctors, nurses and hospital staff members now have an easier system for accessing lab data, seeing previous doctor visits and checking out current medication for their patients.
Island Hospital recently joined Reliance eHealth Collaborative, a health information exchange (HIE) based in Oregon.
The system allows for secure, instant access to all the medical files for the patients at Island Hospital and any other hospital within the growing Reliance network. Whidbey Island Naval Air Station and Skagit Regional Health are in final contract negotiations to join, as well, said Reliance Implementation Specialist Krista Navarro.
“This is a robust HIE,” she said.
If a patient comes into the emergency room, for example, any medical information that exists about that patient at a participating facility can be seen quickly. With connections to pharmacies, Reliance can show whether that person picked up prescribed medication.
The hospital joined with the network a few months after the dissolution of the Medical Information Network-North Sound, which it helped found. That network covered just the Skagit Valley region, and while it was ahead of its time, it just didn’t have the provider support, former hospital CEO Vince Oliver said earlier this year.
Joining with this new network should be a huge cost savings to the hospital, Oliver said earlier this year. Island Hospital helped fund the old network, to the tune of about $4 million since the network formed in 2010.
Under the new network, prices are very low, Navarro said.
“We would rather get the data,” she said.
According to Island Hospital CFO (and interim CEO) Elise Cutter, the hospital will spend $32,900 a year to be a part of the network.
The system also makes it easy to bring together data for reporting, Navarro said. So if the hospital needs to report how many patients it sees with a certain diagnosis, it can pull that together, she said.
It will allow paperwork to easily follow patients, according to Kay Steiner, hospital director of patient hospitality services. Information about an Island Hospital patient who is transferred to Seattle can be transferred securely and instantly via Reliance, making workflow easier, she said.
Department chairs will determine who in their department will receive the training and access to the HIE. Everyone will only have access to the data needed to do his or her job.
Reliance is also browser-based – not software – so the network can be accessed via the internet even if the internal server is down, Steiner said.