Community News

San Diego Health Connect Takes a Big LEAP Over the Barrier of Consent Management

How can we improve the ability of patient to convey their preferences regarding access to and use of their electronic medical record information? San Diego Health Connect – a recipient of an ONC Leading Edge Acceleration Projects in Health IT (LEAP) program award – developed a scalable consent framework for electronic health records to help answer this question. Their work focused on how to use Health Level Seven (HL7®) Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®)-based application programming interfaces (APIs) to allow patients to electronically document and share their consent preferences to streamline availability of information relevant to their care.


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HHS Announces Health IT Awardees Focused on Innovative Interoperability Solutions

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) today announced two awards under the Leading Edge Acceleration Projects in Health Information Technology (LEAP in Health IT) funding opportunity. The LEAP in Health IT awardees play a critical role in advancing the development and use of interoperable health information technology (health IT) and ultimately in improving health care for all Americans.


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Veterans have an easy way to connect their health records:

Would you like to make your doctor visit easier and faster?

Dear Veteran, 

Connecting your docs with the Veterans Health Information Exchange (VHIE), also known as the Virtual Lifetime Electronic Record (VLER) Health program shares important parts of your Veteran health record between the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and your community health care providers who participate in this program.

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HIE use leads to shorter lengths of hospital stay, lower chance of ED readmission

Hospitals in New York are finding big quality and efficiency gains thanks to the ability to access patient EHR data via a regional health information exchange.

A new study just released by HealthlinkNY, which operates the HIE connecting providers and patients in more than a dozen counties across the Hudson Valley and Southern Tier of New York, finds that use of the exchange reduced the patient's length of stay both in the ED and inpatient stay.

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Ambra Health and San Diego Health Connect Partner to Image-Enable HIE Portal

NEW YORKNov. 17, 2016 /PRNewswire/ -- Ambra Health, makers of the leading cloud-based, medical image management suite, today announced a partnership with San Diego Health Connect to image-enable their health information exchange (HIE) network and offer providers a streamlined way in which to exchange and view medical images such as x-ray, CT, MRI, and ultrasound. Now, providers for over 3.5 million patients on the exchange will have seamless, digital access to their patients' imaging data.

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How One HIE Tackled the Challenge of Improving Patient Record Matching

SDHC, a not-for-profit HIE, officially evolved from the San Diego Beacon Community, and now connects 25 different clinics and health systems across the San Diego region.

shutterstock 87550234Six years ago, San Diego Health Connect (SDHC) began as a local health information technology project and has since grown into a regional health information exchange (HIE) that connects San Diego’s three largest health systems and enables the exchange of 3.2 million patients’ electronic medical records (EMRs).

As the HIE has expanded, SDHC leaders have worked to improve the exchange and the quality of the data that’s available through it. That work has come with its share of challenges, and through the use of third-party data quality and data integration technology tools, SDHC has been able to overcome many of these hurdles.

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CHCF to Fund Pilot Project to Develop an Electronic POLST Registry in California

CHCF to Fund Pilot Project to Develop an Electronic POLST Registry in California

San Diego and Contra Costa Counties to be pilot site locations 

The board of directors of the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF) has approved a two-and-half-year project to develop an electronic registry for Physician Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (POLST).

POLST is a standardized form that clearly states what level of medical treatment a patient wants during serious illness or toward the end of life. POLST gives seriously ill patients more control over their treatment and also helps them talk with their health care team and loved ones about their choices. In this way, POLST can help reduce patient and family suffering and make sure patient wishes are known and honored. Unlike an advance directive, POLST is signed by the patient and a physician, nurse practitioner, or physician assistant, and becomes a medical order that moves with the patient across care settings.

While New York, Oregon, Utah, and West Virginia have established electronic registries that store, manage, and provide access to POLST forms, in California most POLST information is maintained only as a pink piece of paper that stays with the patient or the medical record. When POLST information is needed during emergencies or when a patient is unable to communicate, a paper form may not be readily available, hindering care or resulting in care that is against the patient’s wishes.  

The POLST form is a powerful tool for helping patients specify the treatments they do and don’t want,” said Kate O’Malley, RN, MS, senior program officer at CHCF. “But when the paper form is not immediately available, it can result in unwanted care for the patient. Building and testing an electronic database for POLST forms can improve access to this critical information.”

CHCF has worked successfully with the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California (CCCC) to promote widespread adoption of POLST in California since 2007. The new initiative is designed to develop and test a secure, cloud-based web portal for electronic submission, storage, and retrieval of POLST data, helping to inform efforts to develop a permanent POLST registry in the state. CCCC is the home of the California POLST program and will serve as operations center for the registry.

“POLST use is widespread in California but more can be done to increase its effectiveness,” said Judy Thomas, CEO of the Coalition for Compassionate Care of California. “A registry is the next logical step to help ensure patient preferences can be easily accessed across all care settings during an emergency.”

The registry pilot project was spurred by passage of California State Senate Bill 19 (Wolk) in October 2015, which authorized a pilot test for an electronic registry (POLST eRegistry) and the identification of a state agency — the California Emergency Medical Services Authority (EMSA) — as lead agency for the pilot.

Howard Backer, MD, director of the California Emergency Medical Services Authority, observed, “The evolution of the POLST form from a piece of pink paper to full integration into the health record is an essential step to making it available to emergency medical providers responding to patient's homes and providers in the emergency department.”

With CHCF's financial (up to $3 million) and technical support, CCCC and EMSA will work to develop the POLST pilot registry initiative. The project will provide staff resources necessary to create a cloud-based registry for completed POLST forms to be securely submitted and retrieved. The pilot registry will be tested and evaluated in two locations: San Diego and Contra Costa Counties. Learning from the pilot will help guide possible future expansion statewide.

California-based health care technology company Vynca was selected as the vendor for the registry software after completing a competitive request for proposals process. Vynca has extensive experience developing solutions to digitize and share electronic POLST documentation.

Forty-seven states have adopted POLST. California is one of only three states to be recognized by the National POLST Paradigm Task Force as having a ”mature” POLST program. A 2011 study in Oregon found that people with advanced illness or frailty with a POLST form had their end-of-life treatment wishes honored 94% of the time.

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About the California Health Care Foundation

CHCF is dedicated to advancing meaningful, measurable improvements in the way the health care delivery system provides care to the people of California, particularly those with low incomes and those whose needs are not well served by the status quo. We work to ensure that people have access to the care they need, when they need it, at a price they can afford. 

CHCF informs policymakers and industry leaders, invests in ideas and innovations, and connects with changemakers to create a more responsive, patient-centered health care system.

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San Diego Health Connect leverages identity validation to improve patient matching

After facing an unacceptable 70 percent patient matching rate, the San Diego Health Connect health information exchange said it has turned its performance around using identity validation technology to better match patients and in the process clean up its master patient index.

Its current patient matching rate is 98 percent.

"To a certain degree, we caused the problem ourselves," said Dan Chavez, executive director of San Diego Health Connect. "We use very strict matching criteria. Not every HIE uses the strict matching criteria we do. We require a 100 percent match on six variables to automatically match patients. Other HIEs make the governance decision not to match on such strict criteria. If you loosen the rules in probabilistic and deterministic matching, you can have a higher rate. We want the machine to do as much as possible, but we don’t make it easy because we want the faith and trust that what comes out of the HIE is 100 percent correct."

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HIMSS - San Diego Health Connect (SDHC)

The aim of the San Diego Health Connect (SDHC) is to unify the San Diego Area healthcare landscape. They engage patients, securely connect providers, and work with other HIEs to improve care in their community. The SDHC began as the San Diego Beacon Community in 2010, with the goal of strengthening local health information technology infrastructure and implementing new approaches for improving care. The HIE was transitioned into the SDHC in 2013, and continues the work to bring health information exchange to every member of the San Diego Community.


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