Medical providers at Detroit’s St. John Providence needed to work quickly when they received a trauma patient sick enough who couldn’t communicate their medical problem. At the same time, hospital workers couldn’t reach family members to provide necessary background medical information. However, using Cerner’s interoperability solution, they quickly accessed the patient’s medical records and isolated the problem to a particular medication. Using that information, they stabilized the patient.
“Without the computer-fed history, the physicians would not have thought to take the action they did,” said Kevin Morton, D.O. “The computer, the people who fed the data, the people who wrote and installed the capability and the doctors who thought to look at the history saved a life.”
Before implementing interoperability in July 2016, providers couldn’t easily access patient information from external organizations. Even staff in St. John Providence’s practice setting didn’t have knowledge of tests performed during acute care or emergency visits within their own health system unless they were sent via DirectTrust, a framework that helps providers communicate securely. Providers had to reach out and request the information and then rely on getting faxes, paper copies of records or looking outside of their workflow for data.
“Having information readily available about a patient, regardless of where care occurs, expedites care in ways that requesting paper charts could never do—even within an organization,” said Deana Simpson, vice president of transformation.
After implementing the interoperability solution, medical staff can now electronically request health systems for important health records, commonly referred to as Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs). This reduced wait time to access the files. From Q4 2016 through Q1 2017, St. John Providence exchanged more than 1.3 million CCDs, internally and with other organizations.
In addition, St. John Providence providers exchanged more than 136,000 secure messages. These provider-to-provider communications offered medical staff notifications about patients.
“Interoperability of data removes health care silos and puts the patient at the center of care,” Simpson said.
After experiencing the success, St. John Providence leaders increased efforts to conveniently exchange medical data. It went live with CommonWell Health Alliance services in January 2018. The service allows access to medical records in health systems across the U.S.
“The information promotes safety and better health outcomes. Our patients entrust us with their lives; we have an obligation, and they expect that level of care,” Simpson said.