The pMD Blog

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where we cover interesting and relevant news, insights, events, and more related to the health care industry and pMD. Most importantly, this blog is a fun, engaging way to learn about developments in an ever-changing field that is heavily influenced by technology.

Weekly Byte: The Politics of Hospital Interoperability
It's refreshing to see the hospitals coming to us for a change. I've built interfaces with hospital software such as Epic and Cerner for many years, always at the request of physician practices that use our software. The way this typically plays out is the physicians introduce us to their contact at the hospital. This person may or may not feel favorably inclined towards that physician group, and they almost always have limited IT resources and plenty of their own projects on the burner. They want to do the right thing, but they get a lot of different requests from outside practices. Each request represents more work for their overburdened IT team, and also some risk - they are being asked to send data to an external system that they don't control and may not know much about.

I'm sympathetic to anyone in that position. A hospital can't be expected to build dozens or hundreds of interfaces to the charge capture, practice management, and EMR systems of every practice that sees patients there. Building that many interfaces would take many years, and what works with one system in health care rarely works the same way with another. Plus, the variations from site to site and interface to interface increase the overall HIPAA compliance risk and create maintenance challenges.

So imagine how pleasantly surprised I was when a major hospital system that we've interfaced with for many years approached us and asked if we could reuse their interface for some other groups in the community that were also asking for patient demographics. We've already been doing the filtering on our side and routing the correct patient records to each practice, so it wasn't a big leap for them to realize that we could reuse that interface on their end. We could do the work on the pMD side to take that data the "last mile" and get it into the various systems used by each individual practice.

From the hospital's perspective, this was a win in so many areas: they could keep their community physicians happy without spending their own IT resources on VPNs and interfacing with every practice management system and billing company under the sun. pMD took on the compliance challenges and risk involved in filtering and data transfer, which kept their compliance department happy.

We've been happy with the arrangement as well. We're big believers in interoperability, and it's exciting to have a valuable service that we can offer to hospitals rather than asking them for a favor when our customers want data. Plus, we get to reuse all the work that we've put into being the best in the industry at interfacing.

Word is getting out, and I'm eager to help our Health Information Exchange (HIE) customers meet ONC's new requirement for "a majority of individuals and providers across the care continuum to send, receive, find and use a common set of electronic clinical information at the nationwide level by the end of 2017."
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