Health Informatics Discussion Forum

Health Information Exchange questions


I am a student at Arizona State University and I have some questions about sharing health information between clinics.

I am taking a class where we are learning about how humans affect the way healthcare systems are created. We have a project where we need to analyze some kind of healthcare system. My idea is to look at recent software solutions to help exchange patient information between different clinics.

Some patients need to see various specialists to treat their problems. There is a good chance they will not remember every single test or treatment and it will get harder for each new doctor to figure out what treatment they can do. A patient could ask a doctor to write down their treatments and pass it on to the next physician. However, this brings in the problem that each doctor records things differently and can cause unintended confusion.

With advancing technology, many hospitals already use electronic health records, thus it is easier to transfer information in a standard format (assuming they are able to work within the privacy and security laws). In addition, new devices are constantly being created, such as smart watches with heart rate monitors. Nowadays, there are multiple devices that can automatically store the data, so there is less chance of the user forgetting to record their numbers. With each new advancement, EMRs could possibly contain more than just the information a doctors records at an appointment.

Here are some questions I would like to ask:
1. What kind of system do you use, or know of, that can pass health information to a doctor working at a different location?
2. What are the pros and cons of this system?
3. What kind of information do you look for when learning about a new patient?
4. What do you think about patient's updating their health information between appointments using an automatic device? Would such a system help or hinder an evaluation of a patient's health?

5. Please provide basic demographic information to help with forming results: age, years of experience, medical specialty (ie surgeon, cardiologist, primary care, etc.), type of practice (ie private, small, large) and the type of patients you typically care for.

I will only use this information in the context of this class project. I understand if you have a confidentiality policy and are unable to share this information.

Thank you very much.

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  • There are some projects in the UK that aim to address this issue:

    e-Referrals (Choose and Book) - this system allows GPs to send electronic information to specialists when they refer a patient and also allows the patient to update appointments etc

    Spine: this is the main interoperability service that the NHS uses to allow information to be exchanged between hospitals and GPs and other services. From the HSCIC website:

    What does Spine do?
    It connects over 23,000 healthcare IT systems in 20,500 organisations
    Handles ten billion messages every year
    Has one million registered Smartcard users
    Typically has 340,000 users accessing the service at any one time
    Holds over 1.5 billion records and documents
    In peak periods – can handle 2000 messages per second.

    You could also look at open source interoperability solutions such as Mirth
    • Wow. This absolutely useful and beneficial. Let me check in my country if we have such a thing.
      Thanks for sharing.
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