Rochester RHIO, a health information exchange serving 1.4 million consumers in 13 upstate counties in New York, has become the last of eight regional HIEs to build links to the Statewide Health Information Network for New York, known as SHIN-NY.

The RHIO, which has been operating for 10 years, has focused on developing, expanding and maintaining its business while linking to other regional HIEs in the upstate region, because that is where 90 percent of its business comes from, says Jill Eisenstein, executive director.

The organization also recently completed a major platform migration, expanding its ability to send queries to downstate RHIOs, including SHIN-NY, to which it made more than 600 queries in the past month.

The new platform hosts an enterprise master patient index to identify and reconcile duplicate patient records and an interface engine. It also supports clinical alerts to let physicians know when patients have been admitted to a hospital or discharged, and broadens support for HL7 CCD and CCA document exchange standards.

The link to SHIN-NY is especially helpful to better serve healthcare consumers living in the Rochester, Buffalo and Batavia regions, Eisenstein explains. Batavia lies between Rochester and Buffalo, and its residents typically split down the middle in seeking treatment from providers in Rochester or Buffalo, so SHIN-NY eases information exchange in those cases.

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Linking to SHIN-NY further enables Rochester RHIO users to query a longitudinal patient record. SHIN-NY also makes it easier to access to data on Medicaid patients from outside of the region that Rochester providers are treating.

Rochester RHIO and other HIEs in the state also participated in a three-year data normalization initiative to increase the exchange of higher quality information, Eisenstein says, adding that, “It takes a lot of work to make sure the data is useful and clean.”

In another recent initiative, Rochester RHIO adopted the Medical Orders for Life-Sustaining Treatment (MOLST) software from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield to facilitate end-of-life discussions with patients and families. The electronic version, called eMOLST, is a web-based system supporting completion and documentation of the discussion in a database that also serves as the state’s registry for such documents. Excellus offers MOLST in paper and electronic formats at no cost to providers across the state.

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