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Houston HIE Goes Live

Greater Houston Healthconnect, or HEALTHCONNECT, recently announced that Irving, Texas-based CHRISTUS Health and Houston-based Legacy Community Health Services are the first two providers to begin exchanging patient health histories, in the form of continuity of care documents and HL7 feeds, via the HIE.

They're the first of more than two dozen health organizations that plan to participate in the exchange—a network that's projected to include some 14,000 physicians, 130 hospitals, and will ultimately serve nearly 7 million people, officials say. Several major hospital systems and clinics will begin sharing similar information in the coming months.

"This is an important milestone for improving patient care outcomes, and it's very significant that Houston is once again playing a leadership role at the forefront of health care delivery," said Ruthanne Mefford, HEALTHCONNECT's board chair, in a press statement.

"We look forward to enlarging our network as we connect more physicians and hospitals." HEALTHCONNECT, formerly known as Greater Houston Health Information Exchange, is powered by HIE technology from Salt Lake City-based Medicity and employs a federated model in which patient records remain within the health care organizations themselves.

Patients who have opted in to the system can have their records made visible to an authorized provider via a record locator, officials say. As disparate EMR systems create challenges for data liquidity and connected care, HEALTHCONNECT will enable all participants in the continuum of care to track patients' progress, officials from the HIE say. The success of this network will play a critical role in enhancing quality of care and reducing health care costs, although a network of this magnitude will take time to implement fully.

"This network helps our CHRISTUS facilities in Southeast Texas continue to provide care that is focused on our patients, and to serve their needs more efficiently both before and after a hospital stay," said George Conklin, senior vice president and chief information officer at CHRISTUS Health, in a statement.

"We are confident that this secure electronic network will improve the quality of healthcare altogether," said Katy Caldwell, executive director of Legacy Community Health Services. "We are passionate about this vision and eager to begin offering our patients a new service that will make their lives easier and enhance their quality of care."

Source: HIEWatch