Yale New Haven Health this month will become the first health system in New England to join eHealth Exchange, a national network that allows hospitals and other healthcare organizations to securely share information about patients they're treating.
The eHealth Exchange, formerly called the Nationwide Health Information Network, comprises more than 800 hospitals, 6,000 medical groups and other organizations, including the Social Security Administration and Department of Veterans Affairs, which operates the VA healthcare system.
Through the exchange, YNHHS delivery network physicians can electronically request medical records for a patient whose information is with another eHealth Exchange organization. Yale Medical Group and community providers that partnered with YNHHS to implement the Epic electronic medical record can also participate in the exchange.
Healtheway, a public-private partnership that created the eHealth Exchange, developed strict protocols to protect the privacy and security of the patient information its members share. Yale New Haven Health is completing rigorous testing to ensure it meets those protocols and expects to be fully integrated with the network this month.
"The eHealth Exchange makes it faster and more efficient for healthcare providers in different locations to securely share vital information," said Daniel Barchi, YNHHS senior vice president, Technology Services, and chief information officer. "Once participants complete the stringent testing process to be part of the exchange, they can easily share with many other providers, expanding connectivity beyond their service area and affiliations."
The exchange also allows healthcare organizations to electronically share patient care summaries during care transitions and referrals and can help improve care coordination and assist with disease surveillance.
This type of information sharing is not new at YNHHS. For the past three years, the system has been able to electronically exchange patient information with other healthcare organizations that use Epic through Epic's Care EveryWhere function.
"This is one of Epic's most powerful tools," said Tim Cooney, web solutions coordinator, Information Technology Services. "In the past three years we've exchanged data with more than 40 organizations, and that number will grow."
With eHealth Exchange, the number of healthcare organizations YNHHS can share with will increase from 233 to 280, a number also expected to grow once more organizations become part of the exchange.
"By joining the exchange, Yale New Haven Health will be able to provide the safest, highest-quality and most efficient treatment to even more patients who rely on us for care, no matter where those patients come from," Barchi said. "Our participation in this network helps ensure that patients receive the appropriate care, when and where they need it."