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Health IT Success Stories

Dr. Ted Wymyslo Discusses How Health Information Exchange Supports Meaningful Use

"To me the electronic record is the biggest change in health care – probably in the last 50 to 100 years – if you look at what’s going to change the way health care is delivered."

Putting it to the Test: Ohio’s Health Information Exchange

Dr. Wymyslo is proud to announce that the Ohio Health Information Partnership has established, through federal funding, a statewide HIECliniSync – and is now signing on hospitals and health systems to participate. “With the Ohio Health Information Partnership project, we’re bringing practices into the fold, and we’ll go from having a few connected practices to thousands brought together technologically,” Dr. Wymyslo reports. The state’s HIE will help providers coordinate patient care, increase patient engagement, improve patient outcomes, share best practices, and advance the study of population-based health.

Investing in Change

Dr. Wymyslo admits that adopting an electronic health record creates change, and may cause disruption and distraction in a practice during initial implementation. But he encourages providers to “stay focused on the end goal we want to achieve, which is better health for our patients”. While EHR implementation requires an initial time investment, the payoff is well worth the effort. Meaningful use of electronic health records, including HIE, ultimately increases efficiency by saving providers time, eliminating unnecessary paperwork, and reducing redundancy. Additionally, because providers see the same information, there is less risk of medication errors, a more comprehensive understanding of the patient’s family and social histories, and immediate generation of a return note with diagnosis and plan of action for treatment.

Reducing Redundancy and Cutting Costs: Getting Control of Wasted Dollars

Dr. Wymyslo also shares the story of a patient presenting with knee pain. After ordering an x-ray, the primary care physician determines deterioration has occurred and refers the patient to an orthopedist. Without HIE, the orthopedist often would order a repeat x-ray, which is costly, time intensive, and provides no additional benefit to the patient. Electronic health record exchange can arm providers with the ability to securely share digitized imaging test results, eliminating repetitive procedures, reducing cost, and decreasing unnecessary exposure to radiation for the patient.

“Moreover, the orthopedist can view my records and better understand what I am concerned about and give more specific feedback and directions on how I should address further evaluation and treatment,” Dr. Wymyslo says. “Without this information exchange, the orthopedist may not specifically address what my real concern was, thereby necessitating a second visit, phone call, or other contact for clarification.”

How Can HIE Help?

Health information exchange connects doctors, nurses, pharmacists, and other health care providers electronically. It allows the entire care team to access and securely share a patient’s medical information. To illustrate how HIE can help providers meet meaningful use, Dr. Wymyslo offers the example of a primary care provider who co-manages a patient with the patient’s clinical psychologist. Before electronic health records, the psychologist would have to type up session notes and send any observations or recommendations to the primary care physician. The physician would then pull the chart, review the records, and make a determination on any needed actions. If the patient required a medication refill or a dosage change, a nurse would have to call both the pharmacy and the patient with the order given by the doctor and the explanation for the decision. The entire process could take weeks. With electronic health records, data exchange is secure and practically instantaneous. Primary and specialty care providers can now exchange data within minutes, increasing the efficiency of the clinical decision making process. Providers can also e-prescribe and email the patient specific instructions before the patient even returns home from the visit, which helps patients receive the care they need when they need it, increasing the adherence rate.

About Dr. Wymyslo

Dr. Wymyslo is a family physician and the Director of the Ohio Department of Health. He is a strong advocate for health information exchange (HIE) at the state level, as it can help providers meet meaningful use and enable better healthcare for patients. Statewide connectedness allows all providers of health care to be aware of what each is doing at any given time with their mutual patients. Ohio’s information exchange enhances patient safety, improves quality of care, and helps control cost of care.