Independence Blue Cross and HealthShare Exchange present results of region’s unique health information exchange

Philadelphia, PA. – April 8, 2015 – This week, Independence Blue Cross (Independence) and HealthShare Exchange of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Inc. (HSX) will announce the preliminary results of the region’s unique health information exchange at the HIMSS Annual Conference and Exhibition held April 12 to 16 in Chicago. HIMMS is the largest health information technology meeting in the world and attracts nearly 40,000 attendees from around the globe. HSX is the nation’s only health information exchange in a major population area designed and built as a collaboration between health insurers and hospitals.

“Southeastern Pennsylvania is one of the most expensive and complex health care markets in the nation, and an effective health information exchange is essential to improve the quality of care and lower costs,” said Richard Snyder, MD, senior vice president and chief medical officer at Independence and chair of the HSX board.  “HSX focuses on what’s best for patients, such as helping them receive services based on more up-to-date medical information, and not having to bring their records with them for every new doctor appointment.  Their care teams can more easily share current history and records, with less duplication of services and avoidable readmissions.”

While doctors and hospitals have greatly increased their use of electronic health records, HSX goes further by providing a way for health systems to more efficiently communicate with each other.  For example, HSX can “push” information from a hospital to a patient’s primary care physician, specialist or other care coordinator within a few hours of a patient’s discharge. Today, many primary care physicians find out a patient has been discharged if and only if the patient calls for a follow-up appointment.

In their joint HIMMS presentation on April 13, Dr. Snyder and Martin Lupinetti, executive director of HSX, will outline key milestones that include:

  • Building a base of participating doctors that now includes more than 5,000 physicians, on its way to a goal of 10,000 this year.
  • Successfully exchanging information both within hospital/health systems and, most importantly, between them.  Such inter-system sharing of patient data started with the University of Pennsylvania Health System and Crozer-Keystone Health System in 2013, and now includes multiple health systems and 20 hospitals. To date, more than 85 percent of HSX’s Delaware Valley hospital members (36 medical centers) are already connected to the system via Direct secure messaging.
  • Increasing more than 30 fold the number of messages sent per month on the HSX platform to more than 6,000 since last summer.

“We are very encouraged by these initial results which show that our health care community is eager and receptive to sharing information that will help them improve the delivery of care in our region,” said Lupinetti. “We are fortunate to have such committed partners among our doctors, hospitals, and insurers — all of whom have shown a willingness to work collaboratively as we have continued to refine the system over the past year.  Our goal is to connect virtually all of the 15,000 doctors, as well as hospitals, community health centers, and health plans, in our medical service area.”

Lack of information about hospital stays and ER visits can hamper primary care physicians’ ability to provide the most effective follow-up care for their patients. Comprehensive patient care information will help doctors make more informed decisions that lead to higher quality care. For example, up to 50 percent of patients who are readmitted to a hospital within 30 days of discharge return to hospitals other than the one where they were first treated — and the receiving hospital may have no information about the patient’s previous care, medications, and other clinical history. In addition, the hospital may have limited information on the patient’s primary and specialty care team, creating challenges for routing discharge information. HSX would change that.

State and federal grants were instrumental in the launch of HSX, which is now primarily funded by participation dues from hospitals representing more than 90 percent of admissions in the Philadelphia region and several major insurers.