EAST LANSING (WWJ) — The East Tennessee Health Information Network announced Tuesday it will adopt the Health Provider Directory web service created by the Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services to implement a Common Provider Directory with member organizations. The directory is accessible both statewide and nationally for participating East Tennessee and Michigan health care providers to coordinate care for their patients.
The Tennessee network’s adoption of the MiHIN directory service is a significant step forward in creating an interoperable network allowing physician offices, hospitals, and other health care providers to electronically and securely exchange patient health information, which is especially important for patients who travel extensively or live in other states for a portion of the year. Analysis of provider data from numerous sources revealed several hundred providers having both Tennessee and Michigan addresses. Michigan has found similar shared provider populations with other southern states such as Florida. The number of patients shared by Michigan with warmer states is significantly higher.
“The health provider directory essentially serves as the road map for exchanging health information electronically,” said Leigh Sterling, etHIN’s executive director. “It captures the technical and addressing information required to route data from one health care provider to another, which allows providers to improve and coordinate care for their patients when sharing patient records.”
The Healthcare Provider Directory is used in conjunction with Direct secure messaging, which allows providers to securely share information when they are treating common patients.
Currently there are no authoritative, statewide directories of health care providers in either Tennessee or Michigan. Instead, multiple organizations collect similar information in isolated “silo” directories, often using different methods to uniquely identify each provider. Not only are the multitude of directories unable to interoperate, they frequently identify each provider differently, creating duplications and mis-identifications. MiHIN is chartered by the State of Michigan to rectify this problem for Michigan providers by creating a statewide directory which is shareable by other states.
Without a common provider directory, it is very difficult for providers to obtain the necessary contact information, such as a Direct email address, to exchange patient information for referrals, consults or transitions of care, increasing the risk of errors or omissions when communicating patient health information at the point of care. Using the Health Provider Directory and Direct secure email, patient information can be correctly routed between treating physicians.
“The Health Provider Directory keeps track of accurate Electronic Service Information, such as Direct email ids and EHR/HIE system endpoints, to ensure that all members of a patient’s care team can securely communicate Personal Health Information to one another to coordinate and improve care for their shared patients,” said Jeff Livesay, MiHIN associate director. “The Health Provider Directory also keeps track of which members of a patient’s care team should automatically be notified of changes in a patient’s care such as an emergency room visit, or an admission, discharge, or transfer. The directory contains each provider’s preferences for document formats and notification methods to ensure consistent information gets to the point of care for everyone caring for a patient.”
The directory offers connections to other providers in a patient’s care team for a specific episode of care (such as hip/knee replacement or cancer) or throughout the patient’s care history, or any active care relationships with providers who have seen a patient within the past two years.
“The idea is that the right patient information, delivered to the right provider at the right time in the provider’s preferred format, improves the entire health care system across the board,” Sterling said. “The Health Provider Directory is a foundational part of that solution.”