Wisconsin Health Information Exchange Gives Emergency Departments the Information Needed to Help Improve Quality, Safety and Efficiency of Healthcare

REDMOND, Wash., and MILWAUKEE — June 16, 2010 — The Wisconsin Health Information Exchange (WHIE) is fulfilling its vision to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of healthcare by providing emergency department and clinic-based physicians and other authorized clinicians the “communitywide” patient history, aiding optimal decision-making at time and place of care. The WHIE uses Microsoft Amalga Unified Intelligence System (UIS) to aggregate and present a unified view of patient medical history data at the time and point of care.

The results of the WHIE’s “Emergency Department (ED) Linking Project” reflect the early success of one of the nation’s leading efforts to improve healthcare through a regional electronic health information exchange, as well as the success of private and public partnerships in making a positive impact in healthcare.

According to preliminary results from a recent survey conducted by the Medical College of Wisconsin, ED clinicians using WHIE report a positive impact that results from gaining a more comprehensive perspective of patient information. ED clinicians completed the surveys for all patients in a given time period at the initial three pilot sites of WHIE. Responding physicians indicated that use of WHIE reduced the amount of time spent gathering information about patients, as well as reducing the time to disposition decision in majority of cases.

Emergency medicine physicians using the WHIE solution reported a reduction of redundant testing, avoided invasive procedures and achieved greater efficiency in identifying patients requiring ongoing ambulatory care. In addition, engagement of ED case managers in using WHIE enhanced efforts in establishing care relationships with local clinics.

Working with Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) in 2009, the DHS and WHIE team successfully introduced Medicaid pharmacy and encounter data to WHIE. These additional data elements, particularly regarding medications, have been a value-add for clinicians and pharmacists using WHIE.

“We are pleased to learn that physicians using WHIE are finding value in the addition of Medicaid pharmacy and encounter data. This data provides a more comprehensive look at a patient’s medical history, which allows for more informed decisions about next steps in a patient’s care,” said Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Karen Timberlake. “We look forward to concluding the evaluation project with the University of Wisconsin and applying lessons learned through WHIE to the WIRED for Health planning now underway.”

Using Amalga UIS, the WHIE’s ED Linking Project aggregates patient medical information from state Medicaid claims, 22 area hospitals (five integrated delivery networks), numerous associated hospital service areas and physician clinics, and one federally qualified health center (FQHC) in southeast Wisconsin. Currently, a clinical summary view is applied to practice in 10 EDs and one FQHC in Milwaukee County.

Gaining a comprehensive view of a patient — including the filled pharmacy prescription data, imaging and lab procedures, current and previous diagnoses, hospital admission, and discharge and transfer records — enables emergency room doctors to make fully informed decisions about the patient’s care in time-critical situations.

For example, physicians using the WHIE discovered that a 38-year-old female patient presenting shortness of breath had visited a cardiology clinic for congestive heart failure three days before an emergency room visit, prompting them to take action they normally wouldn’t for that age group and complaint. A more complete picture of the patient’s medical history also can help doctors avoid unnecessary medical procedures and redundant testing and is likely to reduce unnecessary inpatient admissions that occur because of missing patient history.

“Based on early results, we believe the use of WHIE is influencing the way healthcare works. This is about fully enabling data — that all too often is ‘captive’ within a given health system’s electronic health record — to support health care delivery and payment changes,” said Kim R. Pemble, executive director of WHIE. “Making this information available to physicians not only improves emergency care but also is the foundation to broader continuity of care in our community and an enabling tool for public health disease surveillance. We are very excited about our collaborative work with the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership and other stakeholders and our success to date, and we look forward to reporting additional evidence of the impact on healthcare delivery in the coming year.”

Adding to the growing enthusiasm regarding use of WHIE, Dr. Albert Tzeel, a national medical director with Humana, said the company “is pleased to extend its participation with WHIE, reflecting our confidence regarding the impact this relationship is providing to its patients and business partners.”

The WHIE is expected to make a positive impact on healthcare in other ways, including working with the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership project to establish patient relationships with the medical home, providing stronger continuity of care for chronic diseases, and enabling physicians to create patient-focused care plans that reduce ED utilization. In addition, WHIE is working with Wisconsin DHS Public Health to expand data sources for disease surveillance. In March through May, an additional 16 hospitals throughout Wisconsin began contributing data, and four more will be added in June, along with several clinic sites.

“The early results of the WHIE demonstrate the power of unlocking data stored in silos across the health system and making it readily available to clinicians at the point of care,” said Nate McLemore, general manager of the Health Solutions Group at Microsoft. “And because Amalga also uniquely enables unique real-time data exploration across populations, the WHIE is able to support quality improvement initiatives and public health surveillance needs as well. We look forward to our continued collaboration with the WHIE as we work to make a positive impact on the lives of people in Wisconsin and to serve as a model for health information exchanges nationwide.”

About WHIE

WHIE is the Wisconsin Health Information Exchange, a not-for-profit organization formed to improve the quality, safety, efficiency and accessibility of health care and public health by enabling collaboration and information sharing across multiple health care facilities. The WHIE ED Linking project is being pursued in collaboration with the Milwaukee Health Care Partnership, WI Department of Health, and participating health care providers across the greater Milwaukee area.

After establishing its initial membership and pursuing initial pilot studies in 2005 and 2006, WHIE launched the ED Linking Project in 2007, with clinical use beginning in 2008. In 2009 WHIE plans to expand the types of data (e.g. lab results, pharmacy information, imaging results) available to participants and also plans to expand the number of participating organizations.

About Microsoft in Health

Microsoft is committed to improving health around the world through software innovation. Over the past 13 years, Microsoft has steadily increased its investments in health, with a focus on addressing the challenges of health providers, health and social services organizations, payers, consumers, and life sciences companies worldwide. Microsoft closely collaborates with a broad ecosystem of partners and develops its own powerful health solutions, such as Amalga and HealthVault. Together, Microsoft and its industry partners are working to advance a vision of unifying health information and making it more readily available, ensuring the best quality of life and affordable care for everyone.

About Humana

Humana Inc., headquartered in Louisville, Ky., is one of the nation’s largest publicly traded health and supplemental benefits companies, with approximately 10.4 million medical members and approximately 7.2 million specialty-benefit members. Humana is a full-service benefits solutions company, offering a wide array of health and supplementary benefit plans for employer groups, government programs and individuals.

Over its 49-year history, Humana has consistently seized opportunities to meet changing customer needs. Today, the company is a leader in consumer engagement, providing guidance that leads to lower costs and a better health plan experience throughout its diversified customer portfolio. More information regarding Humana is available on the company’s web site at http://www.humana.com

About Microsoft

Founded in 1975, Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT”) is the worldwide leader in software, services and solutions that help people and businesses realize their full potential.

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