Five rural hospitals hop on a university’s population health platform

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The University of Missouri Health System, which uses the HealtheIntent population health management software of Cerner, now is extending availability of its EHR-agnostic platform to five regional hospitals to help improve care coordination and assist in population health management.

All six facilities are members of the Health Network of Missouri and will use HealtheIntent to aggregate health data originating from Cerner, Epic, Meditech, eClinicalWorks and Allscripts electronic health record systems in near real-time, and normalize the data, says Tom Tisone, executive director of the network.

The participating hospitals include 487-bed MU Health Care, 145-bed Bothwell Regional Health Center, 100-bed Capital Region Medical Center, 91-bed Hannibal Regional Healthcare System, 116-bed Lake Regional Health System, and 282-bed Saint Francis Healthcare System. The alliance covers more than 1,000 beds and 1,200 physicians.

“With access to demographic, clinical and sociological information surrounding an individual, care teams can identify gaps in care, predict outcomes and apply early interventions to improve health and care across the network,” Mitch Wasden, CEO at University of Missouri Health Care.

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The network was formed in June 2014 to improve access and care coordination, and sharing data and best practices, particularly in rural areas of the state. The groups talked about tapping into HealtheIntent, but thought they could set up a simple database, get data from their third-party administrators and work on spreadsheets.

But they found that consistent metrics from TPAs was not optimal—the data was inaccurate, untimely and took plenty of manpower to clean up. Members further learned that having six organizations jointly work on quality metrics and other measures was difficult.

“That helped us realize we needed a common platform,” Tisone says. The next step was demonstrating to top leaders at each organization why a common platform was the answer to getting everyone on the same page, and moving to HealtheIntent—which the University of Missouri Health System already was using—was the way to go.

That started an effort to work on the necessary agreements between Cerner and Health Network of Missouri, with implementation planning now underway. The HealtheIntent onboarding of all the network members should take no longer than 18 months, according to Tisone.

While each organization will pay its own costs to connect its EHR to the platform, extending the university’s system to the smaller hospitals will decrease the cost barrier into population health management.

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Throughout the process, member organizations have been working together on several task forces. The transitions of care task force, for instance, found the state had a “black hole,” as physicians would send patients and data to University of Missouri Health System but not get information back. A supply chain task force worked to create savings by linking to the university’s group purchasing organization. And the effort got a grant for rural training sites hoping that physicians trained in rural provider organizations will stay there.

Another collaborative initiative supports dissemination of best practices in women’s health, oncology, orthopedics and cardiovascular care. Surprisingly, the university found the best practices to be as valuable as the rural providers did, says Tisone.

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