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Ref: Delware health information network to go online

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Delaware first with statewide health information exchange

BY Nancy Ferris
Published on March 28, 2007

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The Delaware Health Information Network (DHIN) will go live this week with initial functionality for a small group of users. The network's builders say the network is the first implementation of a statewide health information exchange.

“All indications are that we’re going to be the first,” said Paula Roy, executive director of the Delaware Health Care Commission, which is developing DHIN.

At first, the network will deliver lab test results, radiology reports, and admission, discharge and transfer reports to the participants -– three hospital systems, five doctors’ practices with 30 offices and 70 physicians among them, and LabCorp. More users will be added while the next phase -– a record locator system --- is developed.

The network will deliver all lab results, regardless of where they originate, in the same standard format, said Gina Perez, the project's director. The reports can be delivered by fax or e-mail or transferred into a provider’s e-health records system.

“About 30 percent of Delaware physicians have electronic medical records,” Perez said, an above-average percentage. However, they need only a PC running Microsoft Windows and a high-speed Internet connection to use DHIN services. Two of the medical practices in the initial user group will receive lab results into their EMR systems in April, Perez said.

Hospitals and doctors in the state are eager to use the network, she added.

The commission chose Medicity of Salt Lake City, partnered with Perot Systems, as the technology supplier for DHIN. The Medicity/Perot team recently won a contract to build a statewide health information network for California.

In the future, DHIN developers plan to offer a patient portal, insurance claims submission services, public health reporting of contagious diseases, clinical decision support and chronic disease management services.

The network has been built with a $4.7 million grant from the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, $2 million from the state government and $2 million from the three hospital systems, LabCorp and Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware.

The network is not charging fees for its services and is expecting more funding from the state and the participating health care companies. Development of a long-term financial plan is on the commission’s agenda.

“The system has to be valuable to the users,” Perez said. She said it should help avoid unnecessary medical tests and reduce delays and paperwork now associated with lab and radiology reports.

Roy said Delaware's small size and tradition of collaboration made it possible to get the network up in little more than six months. However, "this [project] certainly tested us," because of the different information technology systems, business practices and organizational cultures that had to be aligned, she said.

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