UMass Memorial Health Care (UMass) and Milford Regional Medical Center (MRMC) launched their connection to the Massachusetts Health Information Highway (Mass HIway) in May when MRMC began sending patient lab results electronically to UMass, an achievement that represents a significant step forward for secure and efficient transfer of patient information in Massachusetts and better overall care outcomes.
The electronic health information exchange (HIE) between the two providers stems from the HIway Implementation Grant program the Massachusetts eHealth Institute (MeHI) launched in 2013. The initiative awarded $2.3 million to 32-grantees representing 80 health care organizations across the Commonwealth. The collaboration between the five-hospital UMass and the 145-bed MRMC was among the proposals selected for the grant program and one of the first to go “live.”
“There has been a long-term interest in getting Milford Regional Medical Center information into the UMass world,” said Mark Taricco, manager of integration at UMass. “When the grant opportunity came up we took advantage of it to bring Milford lab results into the UMass realm.”
Through the grant program, Umass worked with MRMC to establish an HL7 interface on the HIway that connects the two provider organizations. Patient lab results generated at MRMC travel via the HIway to UMass and are automatically entered into the hospital system’s dbMotion platform, a data aggregating tool that pulls together patient history from various electronic systems.
Under the recently completed connection, patient information flows in one direction – from MRMC to UMass. Taricco said future updates to dbMotion will allow information to travel in the other direction, from UMass to MRMC as well as to other providers.
The previous system for sharing patient lab information between MRMC and UMass required transporting actual paper documents and using fax machines. The lab result information had to be typed into the UMass system manually, which raised the chances for input errors, missing information and duplicate testing.
“When you’re manually typing in information, mistakes can be made very easily, such as typos and incorrect results,” said Taricco. “Other issues include timing and delays in getting that information typed into the system, whereas electronically we can get information sent directly to us and automatically entered into dbMotion.”
The electronic sharing of patient lab results between UMass and MRMC is a first step on the HIway for the two providers, but Taricco said the connection will become more valuable and when it expands to include other types of information, such as radiology tests.
Additionally, UMass plans to seek out HIE connections with other organizations and hospitals.
“Once there is a larger variety of systems participating, we’ll be able to take advantage of not performing redundant tests and things of that nature because we’ll have a broader scope of the patient history,” said Taricco.