May 2016

When Investing in Interoperability, Health Systems Need Connectivity ROI

At SSM Health, a Catholic not for profit health system in St. Louis, investing in interoperability is a top priority. The organization’s focus on improving health information exchange not only helps them deliver better care, but more recently, it also ensures that SSM Health providers have access to the critical information they need, where and when they need it.

A pioneer in the industry, SSM Health has been piloting the National Record Locator Service (NRLS) since last year – and this spring marks a monumental step forward as the system is now live and exchanging thousands of documents per day. 

SSM Health providers are now able to quickly and efficiently locate and share patient records across disparate systems, geographies and technologies.

For example, when a patient visits SSM Health, their doctor will be able to see the hospitals and clinics that patient has visited outside of the organization. We’ve seen countless examples of patients that are showing up with visit histories that span numerous states, tens of provider organizations and a number of encounters that far exceed any patient’s ability to accurately recall.

As SSM Health continues to invest in interoperability and improve patient safety through technology, what qualities and capabilities are most important to its IT leaders as they assess the plethora of options available? What factors are health system “must haves” when it comes to choosing solutions and aligning with vendor partners?

SSM Health clinical interoperability lead, Erica Neher, weighed in on these questions and more during a panel discussion at this year’s HIMSS16 conference. As she discussed onsite, when investing in tools that enable interoperability – such as NRLS – improved connectivity is a must, as is ensuring access to timely, critical information in the most effective way.

Below are some of Erica’s thoughts on achieving interoperability from the provider perspective. You can also watch the full panel discussion here, and read more about SSM Health’s launch of NRLS here.

On investing in interoperability:

  • “We’ve been really focused on determining where we spend our money on interoperability. There are a lot of options out there and a lot of choices. In order to decide which technologies are worth it, you have to look at the economies of scale. What types of connections am I getting for the money that we’re putting out? I want something that gives me the most connections, the most efficient way, and that removes the most middle men, but that provides me with the most valuable information.” 

On benefits of patient data location and information exchange via NRLS:

  • “Last year, we reconciled over 560,000 medications that we didn’t previously have on our charts. Some of those are patients who are new to our system, but a lot of those are patients who were currently our patients. By having access to this outside data, we now know of 560,000 extra medications and 13,500 additional allergies. If you think about it in terms of preventing an error, we now have a tremendous amount of new information that could prevent an adverse reaction to a medication.”

Behind the thousands of transactions Surescripts enables each day through NRLS, there are individual patients and providers that are able to strengthen their relationship and care through the power of technology. We’ve been thrilled to partner with SSM Health to deliver a service that has such a meaningful impact on how care is delivered.

Join in the conversation on Twitter and Facebook or learn more about National Record Locator Service here.

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