Editor’s Note: The following article is a Guest Column from Joe Cisna, the Healthcare Solutions Manager at Konica Minolta Business Solutions U.S.A., Inc. You can contact Joe on Twitter @KMBS_Healthcare. To learn more about submitting a Guest Column, Click Here.
The topic of interoperability has been top of mind over the last couple of years, and is certainly a material discussion point relative to Meaningful Use Stage 2. And while the Meaningful Use program’s merits are debated, there is very little debate over the value of effective and secure exchange of patient data.
The challenge faced by healthcare organizations, however, is the difficulty experienced in connecting disparate systems in an efficient and affordable way. Sending continuity of care records is a requirement of a certified EHR. But, given that an estimated 30%-40% of a patient’s medical record still exists in paper (or digital equivalents), how is that information exchanged? Today, the answer is fax. And, as we all know, fax is neither secure nor efficient. It certainly does not satisfy any of the current standards put forth by federal legislation, such as Meaningful Use. So, what is the alternative?
Direct Messaging, the standard developed for the secure exchange of patient data, is one answer. Virtually any certified EHR is capable of sending a secure message, and portals have been used with varying levels of success to share documents across the community of care. The primary roadblock remains the under-served community of providers, such as long-term care, home health, therapies and small ambulatory providers with limited or no EHR. These organizations have limited capability to receive Direct Messages, and little to no ability to send them out of their facilities. This presents a significant challenge to hospitals trying to meet the Stage 2 interoperability requirements of exchanging summaries of care for 10% of their transition of care transactions, as they are dependent upon this segment of the care continuum to meet their requirements.
Now, technology exists to equip every provider, large or small, EHR or paper, to leverage Direct Messaging. Cloud apps are available to receive these messages from their community referral partners, and integration with multi-function (print, copy and scan) devices even allows the capability to scan a document, such as a referral or advanced directive, on the device and initiate a secure transmission of that document across a national clinical exchange network. The benefits of this technology and integration are many: connecting the entire community of care; assisting facilities covered by the Meaningful Use program to meet their requirements; increasing the security of patient data exchange enhancing HIPAA compliance; and minimizing the challenges associated with fax transmission, such as incomplete, delayed or garbled transmission, thereby positively impacting patient care.