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Cloud enablement

Verizon Launches Health Information Exchange

Verizon Enterprise Solutions today announced its entry into the health information exchange business, launching a cloud-based service that makes personal medical records available to authorized medical personnel.

The Verizon Health Information Exchange (VHIE) will provide a unified view of a patient's medical record that can be accessed via an Internet connection from a doctor's office or hospital.

Built using Oracle Corp. (Nasdaq: ORCL)'s Enterprise Master Patient Index, which enables all the medical records of a given patient to be associated to a unique key, the VHIE will have built-in identity management to protect individual records, and Verizon security to prevent denial-of-service attacks and other threats.

There are multiple drivers for the development of health information exchanges, including federal regulations that both require the healthcare industry to move to automate its IT processes and provide funding to do so. In addition, there is the need to provide better patient care, reduce medical errors, and eliminate the need for patients to keep track of their own records, says Gerard Grundler, managing principal, Health Information Exchange Services, for Verizon.

"Consumers are starting to really drive the business -- this is now a patient-centric ecosystem," Grundler says. "They want to go to a provider that has a holistic view of their patient records, so they don't have the burden of carrying around their results."

The VHIE is Verizon's latest foray into vertical applications for the healthcare industry, which began with the creation of a devoted business unit, Verizon Connected Health Care Solutions, and which includes the hiring of people from the health sector, such as Grundler.

The VHIE offers a portal and search capabilities that enable doctors to quickly find the information or test results they're seeking for a specific patient. It includes a record locator service, cross-enterprise patient index, and secure clinical messaging capabilities. MedVirginia, a non-profit organization built by Virginia healthcare organizations to improve IT services, is a participant in the development of VHIE, and its first customer. Doctors' offices and hospitals will subscribe to the VHIE and, because it is a cloud–based service, pay on a per-usage basis.

Patients will be able to control who has access to their records and decide which records are available, Grundler says.

The viewer and presentation layer of the VHIE are based on technology from MedFX.

"Jane Doe can allow access to her health records, but prevent access to her mental health records or her HIV status, for example," he says.

"Each doctor, depending on what they are treating, can look at the patient record differently. They can focus on what is important to their treatment."

Electronic record-keeping is intended to reduce errors in patient care by providing a comprehensive view of the patient (the medication they are taking, the last time they were seen by a doctor, and so on), while reducing the cost of sharing information by eliminating the need for records to be printed and either faxed, mailed, or carried between medical facilities.

By 2014, the federal government will be penalizing those healthcare practices that haven't migrated to electronic records, Grundler says. The VHIE is designed to meet all federal regulations for electronic records, as they roll out between now and then.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

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