While the project still seems to be in its early days, the two largest health systems in Kansas have completed the first stage of connecting up to a common HIE. The two systems did so by joining forces with KHIN, an HIE which serves 130 hospitals and more than 4,500 physicians across the state.
The two systems — Via Christi Health Systems and HCA Wesley, both of Wichita — haven’t gone very far with the process. The two simply managed to transfer clinical data successfully into the KHIN production environment. The two systems prepared for a year to conduct the exchange, including a two-week final period during which both sides verified that patient data was coming into the system properly.
According to a report in HIEanswers.net, the implementation allows for interoperability across all certified EMR vendors in the network (would like to know more about that!) and had appropriate controls in place to let patients specify privacy preferences.
The next step for KHIN is to connect with the Lewis and Clark Health Information Exchange, a Missouri-based HIE which stretches into northern Kansas. The idea is to begin pushing data from one HIE to the other, broadening KHIN’s 83,000 square mile reach further.
As a veteran, cynical HIE watcher, I’d give this effort better chances than most. For one thing, it’s backed by the state medical society and state hospital association, which certainly never hurts. And if — a big if, I’d say — KHIN has somehow achieved interoperability between the varied EMRs on the network, they’re miles ahead of the game.
That being said, I smell a rat when it comes to the interoperability claims. If hospitals and clinics can’t connect slightly different installations of the same EMR, making a large handful of ambulatory and hospital-based EMRs talk to one another sounds rather unlikely. But as I’ve often said here, I suppose it’s a matter of “wait and see, folks.”