On May 22nd, Verato hosted a webinar with Stanley M. Huff, MD, Chief Medical Informatics Officer with Intermountain Healthcare. Dr. Huff shared how Intermountain is taking a patient-centered approach to care delivery. Patient-centered care means helping people live the healthiest lives possible by improving care quality. In order to deliver patient-centered care, Dr. Huff described how healthcare providers need complete patient-centered data. This, he said, is a challenge because data stems from a variety of sources both inside and outside the four walls of a hospital. As a result, he reminded that health systems must invest in technology that facilitates interoperability within and between health systems; sharing data provides caregivers with a complete view of each patient’s clinical history, allowing them to make more informed care decisions.
Medical errors are now the third leading cause of death in the U.S.
Dr. Huff kicked off the webinar with powerful personal anecdotes and troubling stats; he relayed that 251,454 deaths occur annually during inpatient admissions from preventable medical errors. This volume indicates that medical error related deaths are 5-6x more common than deaths related to auto accidents. These preventable medical errors often occur, he shared, because of disconnected data that would otherwise inform care, documentation, and decision making. All of this data may exist in a patient’s medical record but fail to be accurately connected due to a lack of reliable information sharing.
Improving connectivity via FHIR is one piece of the interoperability puzzle
Dr. Huff discussed Intermountain’s vision of “plug and play interoperability”— to be achieved through implementing standards-based, semantically interoperable applications that store and retrieve data through FHIR (Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources) and reside in the cloud; ready to share. By sharing data this way, health systems can minimize the duplication and increase real-time access. Dr. Huff encouraged that standards-based applications break down the barrier of knowledge sharing by enabling data transmission without the need for translation.
Intermountain is tackling another critical component of interoperability: patient matching
Ensuring data is appropriately linked to the right record, patient matching, is another critical component of interoperability. In support of the vision Dr. Huff outlined, Intermountain leads by example tackling patient matching head-on. However, patient matching is often overlooked leaving 85% of the survey respondents to a recent Pew Charitable Trust report stating that their patient matching is not of adequate quality to support information sharing. Adoption of EHRs further exacerbates the opportunity for interoperability and creates a clear demand to improve patient matching. For example, in Dr. Huff’s picture of a patient-centered data approach, if lab data cannot be connected across systems because of a failed attempt to associate the patient records, critical components of the clinical picture will be missed. Learn how referential patient matching supports innovative consumer-driven initiatives too.