WY Medical Center Connects Epic EHR to eHealth Exchange

Original article found here.

July 10, 2017 - Cheyenne Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Wyoming recently connected to the Sequoia Project’s eHealth Exchange using Epic EHR.

Connecting to the federal eHealth Exchange gives CRMC access to the largest secure health data sharing network in the country. 

Before connecting to eHealth Exchange, CRMC was only able to connect and share patient data with other healthcare organizations also using Epic EHR systems.

Now, CRMC patients and providers will benefit from health data exchange between healthcare organizations and federal agencies using different EHR systems including the Department of Veteran’s Affairs (VA), the Department of Defense (DoD), the Social Security Administration, and CMS. 

“Our hospital and medical clinics share health responsibilities with the local V.A. Medical Center and F.E. Warren Air Force Base,” said CRMC Director of Information Technology Jody Siltzer. “For us to be able to connect with their electronic medical records is incredibly important.”

CRMC installed its Epic EHR system in 2013. In 2016, CRMC exchanged almost 300,000 medical records with other Epic users across the country including 900 hospitals, 1,090 emergency departments, and 26,160 medical clinics.

“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. “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.”

While CRMC was pleased with the steady increase of information flowing into their hospital, the medical center soon became interested in expanding their data exchange capabilities to include organizations using systems other than Epic.

 “By connecting to the eHealth Exchange, CRMC can now securely share vital information with organizations that have different electronic medical records systems,” Siltzer said.

Editor's Note: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated eHealth Exchange is in use at 40 percent of hospitals.

eHealth Exchange participants include hospitals, medical provider networks, pharmacies, regional health information exchanges, and federal agencies. The network of networks connects 65 percent of all hospitals in the country, as well as thousands of medical groups and over 8,300 pharmacies.

In addition to improved health data exchange, connecting to the eHealth Exchange has allowed CRMC to benefit from increased efficiency when filing disability claims by processing claims electronically.

 “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,” said Siltzer. “Before, we had to submit paper claims, which could take up to three months to be reviewed and processed.”

In an effort to further improve its health data sharing capabilities, CSMC connected to the Carequality framework as well.

“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 the second healthcare organization in Wyoming to utilize the framework.

 “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.”

eHealth Exchange recently facilitated an agreement between Carolinas HealthCare System and Novant Health allowing the two health systems to exchange patient data between their respective Cerner and Epic technologies.

The agreement has helped to forge connections and bridge gaps in information sharing between different EHRs from rivaling companies, improving interoperability across the healthcare industry.