San Diego residents to benefit from Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO)

Santa Clara 03 October 2005San Diego County residents will soon benefit from one of the most advanced regional health care networks in the nation. The state-of-the-art project will be fully supported by an end-to-end solution from Sun Microsystems Inc., the creator and advocate of Java technology. Regional networks are considered a critical step in developing a nationwide interoperable health information network that can benefit all Americans, a primary goal of the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) and many Congressional leaders.

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Specifically, the San Diego County Medical Society (SDCMS) Foundation selected the Sun Java Integration Suite, an integration and composite application development platform and a component of Sun's Java Enterprise System offering, to support its regional health information organisation (RHIO) initiative, called the San Diego Medical Information Network Exchange (SD MINE) project. The Sun Java Integration Suite will enable SD MINE to intelligently cross-match patient data from disparate points of care into a single patient record that is accessible to all organisations within the RHIO.

San Diego County health care providers are working to develop a technology and infrastructure model that connects the entire health care community to enhance patient safety and quality of care. Health care providers intend to establish a RHIO that, when fully operational, will bring together patient information from the county's 35 hospitals, 7000 physicians, more than 70 clinics, 378 pharmacies, community labs, radiology facilities, nursing homes, health plans and public health information systems to serve the three million residents in San Diego County.

"Sun's delivery of a cost-effective, single vendor solution to improve patient safety and increase efficiency means RHIOs can benefit from secure access to need-to-know clinical and financial history", stated Wayne Owens, vice president, Healthcare Integration Platforms, Sun Microsystems Inc. "By selecting Sun, SD MINE has chosen an affordable, end-to-end RHIO solution that delivers a comprehensive single view of disparate patient data and leverages the flexibility of a Service-Oriented Architecture."

The groundbreaking collaborative project will be uniquely designed to support the improvement of patient safety, quality of care, and efficiency of health care delivery through the use of information technology for secure exchange of health information. The SDCMS Foundation selected Sun as its sole technology partner because of Sun's unique ability to offer a comprehensive solution for the RHIO initiative. Several other RHIOs in the United States currently face significant cost overruns and implementation issues because of the use of multiple technology solution providers.

"After almost two years of intensive research and discussions with national experts and local stakeholders, we have identified an experienced and reliable technology partner that can offer a fully integrated solution for the entire county of San Diego", stated Stephen Carson, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the San Diego County Medical Society Foundation. "We chose Sun for this initiative because of its proven experience in implementing all requirements of our community stakeholders. In addition, its mature and widely-used Enterprise Master Patient Index (EMPI) solution has successfully solved duplicate medical record issues for some of the largest integrated delivery systems in the world."

Over the next 90 days, the SDCMS Foundation will work closely with community stakeholders to establish a governance structure and a priority list of projects that will roll out in phases. Potential first-round projects include credentialing programmes and linking emergency rooms throughout the county with a safety net of providers and clinics in order to find a medical home for uninsured patients who regularly show up in the emergency rooms. The initial efforts would also focus on the development of a clinical messaging system to efficiently track hospitalized patients; a community-wide bridge to immunization and diabetes registries; and a single portal for patient education, allowing patients quick and easy access to eligibility, balance-due verification and various health care resources.

Sun will work with the SDCMS Foundation to establish a Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA)-based framework to help the San Diego RHIO enhance public safety, increase efficiencies and improve clinical outcomes. San Diego and other counties throughout the United States are looking to RHIOs as a way to provide patients and physicians with time- and cost-saving benefits.

This includes better patient care via comprehensive "real time" medical information delivered electronically to the point of care, including medication management, e-Prescribing, laboratory results, radiology images, as well as in-patient and out-patient care tracking to improve the efficiency of clinical and administrative functions.

There will be faster patient registration and service through the use of "smart card" technologies that help eliminate repetitious form completion and medical history compilation, as well as the processing of Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Spending Account (FSA) and health plan claims. Payer and provider administrators are also estimated to save five to ten percent of their administration costs through the automation of previous manual and paper-based processes.

A true interoperability across legacy systems will be established, ultimately offering connection between physician offices, medical centres, hospitals, labs, pharmacies, home health care, ancillary support systems, public health, employers and payers.

The system will provide an increased return on investment through a "single patient view" powered by the Sun SeeBeyond eIndex Global Identifier. The eIndex EMPI technology provides the ability to rapidly distill millions of bytes of data for patients with duplicate names from multiple patient records into a single user display that can be seamlessly transferred to the appropriate fields in the patient's electronic medical record (EMR), practice management system, e-Prescribing tool or Continuity of Care Record.

The secure, Internet-based clinical messaging facilitated by Sun's portal allows open standard connections across disparate systems. HIPAA compliant secure transactions are provided between physicians, hospitals and health plans. The ability to exchange claims, eligibility and authorization data in a HIPAA compliant X12 format is essential in order to speed payments and lower administrative costs for all points in the health care chain.

A future connection to a National Health Information Network will be achieved via the Department of Health & Human Services-preferred SOA interoperable infrastructure. Open, standards-based Sun technologies such as the Sun Java Enterprise System and the Solaris 10 Operating System are designed to support system interoperability.

The San Diego County Medical Society Foundation is a 501.c.3 independent, charitable, not for profit organisation created by the San Diego County Medical Society. Its mission is to address unmet health care needs for all patients and physicians in San Diego County through education and innovation. The Foundation has active initiatives in Technology, Access to Care, Consumer Health Education, Community Mobilization of Retired Physicians and Support and Policy Training for Medical Students.

The Sun Java Integration Suite, formerly the SeeBeyond Integrated Composite Application Network Suite (SeeBeyond ICAN Suite) is now the sixth suite in the Sun Java Enterprise System (Java ES). The new technology suite is a result of Sun's recent acquisition of SeeBeyond. With nearly one million Java ES subscribers to date, the addition of the Sun Java Integration Suite will build upon Java ES's proven success, and position it as the most complete software platform for building Service-Oriented Architectures, Web services and composite applications. More company news can be found in the VMW October 2005 article Georgetown University Medical Center selects Sun Microsystems and InstantDx for RHIO initiative and new integrated learning laboratory.


Leslie Versweyveld

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