National Institutes of Health awards $1,7 million for interoperability and portability of Electronic Medical Records across Philadelphia

Philadelphia 05 April 2005The National Cancer Institute (NCI) of the National Institutes of Health has awarded a $1,7 million grant to health information service provider Hx Technologies to expand and enhance its flagship Philadelphia Health Information Exchange. The award comes amid a very high level of interest in such networks across the nation stimulated by President Bush's call for interoperable electronic medical records within the next ten years. It follows a rigorous peer-review process that had assigned a high priority score based on the company's record of continued innovation and the project's benefits to society. An anticipated national health information network (NHIN) is expected to emerge from such regional exchanges.

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Built on the company's iHistory platform, the Philadelphia network was launched two years ago to enable hospitals and clinics to privately and securely exchange digital medical records across enterprise borders for shared patients. The network closes the typical gaps in a physician's knowledge of patient history by enabling on-demand access to a complete view of clinical information regardless of where a patient has sought care.

The network currently supports the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Presbyterian Medical Center and Pennsylvania Hospital. The new funds will support expansion of the network to additional hospitals in the region, research into its ability to improve cancer diagnosis and management, and inclusion of interoperability standards to ensure compatibility with other networks as they emerge around the country.

"We are grateful for the generous and continued support of the National Institutes of Health", stated Dr. Elliot Menschik, chief executive of Hx Technologies. "The scale and scope of this new award are a validation of our vision, approach and success in enabling accurate, effective, and collaborative care through next-generation information technology. More importantly, this award provides for the expansion of the network to new participants, further enhancing benefits for the region and establishing a viable model for other regions of the country."

Philadelphia's network is unique not only for its urban setting and coverage of one of the nation's largest and most competitive health care markets, but also for its focus on digital images such as x-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and ultrasounds. Such data are seen by many as the most challenging form of information to share given their size and the need for sophisticated visualization tools. They are also the most expensive to reproduce when needed but out-of-reach.

At present, the regional network provides private and secure access to over 140 million images covering eight years of patient history and is believed to be the largest such collection of diagnostic imaging data in the country. It supports a range of collaborations between care providers for patients shared among participating sites.

The network is built on the principle that patient data should remain under the stewardship of the health care providers who acquired it and subject to the same stringent privacy and security standards that each hospital or clinic currently applies to paper and film records. The iHistory platform links to the existing archives at each site and permits health care providers on the outside to securely access the data on-line subject to restrictions that meet and often exceed the requirements of HIPAA privacy rule.

iHistory is commercially-available to support the efforts of regional health information organisations (RHIOs) planning similar exchanges around the United States. In addition, Hx Technologies has developed an approach by which RHIOs can rapidly launch and sustain iHistory-based networks using financial resources already allocated in each community. The technology platform and financing approach are currently under evaluation by several such RHIOs contemplating future networks.

Hx Technologies will be showcasing iHistory at the Connecting Communities for Better Health forum in Washington, DC, May 25 and 26, 2005 and the Annual Meeting of the Society for Computing Applications in Radiology in Orlando, June 2-4, 2005. Hx Technologies continues to seek additional participants for the network. Hospitals, clinics and imaging centres not currently involved in the initiative are encouraged to contact the company.

Hx Technologies is a health information service provider that has pioneered the building of regional health information exchanges over the last five years with support from the National Institutes of Health. Working with health care providers, payers, and regional health information organisations (RHIOs), HxTI is dedicated to improving the quality of health care while targeting duplicative waste by enabling on-demand and secure access to digital patient data located beyond enterprise borders.


Leslie Versweyveld

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