Health Information Exchange Launches in the Cloud
Client:Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange
- Developing a system for the secure exchange of health information to enable faster processing of Social Security disability claims.
- Building a common framework, governance models and business rules that foster interoperability between disparate healthcare systems.
- Creating a healthcare infrastructure compatible with international, state and federal standards and requirements.
- Providing the Health Information Exchange
- Using a SOA/Cloud Computing approach
- CSC Hosting/Data Center
- Developed a workable, operable health information exchange that can handle patient data in a secure manner.
- Validated conformance with and interoperability testing on the national health information exchange.
- When fully implemented, will produce reductions in average wait time for determination of Social Security disability benefits from 457 days to less than one week.
The longstanding goal of creating a standardized system for sharing electronic health records (EHRs) in the United States remains elusive. But with the help of CSC, a healthcare consortium is tapping into the cloud to make significant inroads toward achieving that aim.
CSC’s expertise in health services, cloud computing, technology standards and working with government agencies is proving beneficial to the Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange (SEMHIE).
The nonprofit consortium is a multi-stakeholder initiative made up of a variety of providers, payers and healthcare entities, including six major health systems. SEMHIE’s chief goal is to create a health information exchange that serves patients effectively while saving money and meeting federal standards.
SEMHIE is one of 12 healthcare providers tasked by the U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) to develop a system for automating the filing of Social Security disability claims. A key component of the project is to meet stringent data-sharing standards to operate on the Nationwide Health Information Network Exchange (NwHIN).
SEMHIE achieved a significant project milestone in October 2011 when it went live on NwHIN, becoming one of a small number of exchanges to be validated for conformance and interoperability testing by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.
Using SOA and cloud computing
The challenge of getting disparate systems to extract, convert and share information efficiently is a common task facing health information exchanges and integrating the legacy systems of providers. Partnering with a versatile technology provider with a wide range of expertise was a necessity for SEMHIE.
The SEMHIE team needed a partner with deep experience and expertise in EHRs, health services, interoperability standards, hosting and service-oriented architecture (SOA). “I thought that a SOA/cloud approach would be particularly interesting to deal with some of the interoperability and application issues,” says Mick Talley, a program manager of SEMHIE.
Using a SOA approach, a set of methodologies and principles could be developed to foster interoperability between systems. “When I discovered that CSC had not only helped build NwHIN, but was also exploring a SOA/cloud approach, it became a marriage made in heaven,” he says.
The SSA has cited reducing the backlog of disability claims and increasing the speed of claims processing as among its top goals for 2012. Basically, SEMHIE is tasked with automating a slow, paper-based process. When the system is completed, SSA hopes to reduce the average wait for eligibility determination from 457 days to about one week.
A need for structured data
SEMHIE is made up of seven counties in southeast Michigan and serves a large, culturally diverse population, including the Detroit metro area. There are more than 14,000 physician practices in the region, and two of the largest healthcare organizations in Michigan, Henry Ford Health System and Oakwood Healthcare System, are members of the SEMHIE consortium.
Government budget cuts are making it more difficult for citizens to navigate through the disability claims process. Today, the SSA is awash in paper and electronic PDFs, and they have no structured data. CSC says, “The faster we can provide the evidence to the SSA in a structured way so that their computer systems can actually analyze it and help with the review process, the faster people will get access to healthcare, have their treatments and get their determination made.”
Cathy Cimino, CSC’s project manager for SEMHIE, adds, “What we are doing is revolutionary inasmuch as we are automating an archaic process that currently takes a very long time, much to the angst of many people who are waiting for their disability benefits. That's how CSC is helping — we leverage technology in a way that will accommodate and help a large number of people.”
Christopher Chen, Client Partner for CSC Healthcare, adds, “It is the goal of CSC to leverage technology to benefit all stakeholders in healthcare, including doctors, administrators and patients. We have brought CSC's unique breadth of solutions, capabilities, and healthcare expertise to innovate and create dramatic benefits with SEMHIE. Not only do we take great pride in that fact, we feel it is part of our corporate responsibility.”
Patient records are the backbone of electronic health information exchanges, and the data needs to meet tight security and privacy requirements as well as conform to meaningful-use criteria for EHR technology.
With a background in banking, Talley envisions an ATM-like network for exchanging health information. “CSC understands the various approaches and use of standards for interoperability to provide a trusted computing environment for security and privacy, which is going to crop up as we go forward,” he says.
To fulfill this mission, establishing consistent standards is essential, and Talley says that CSC’s leadership in standards organizations such as the Object Management Group has been beneficial. “Having that expertise to rely on is crucial.”