OWL Frequently Asked Questions
About the Clinical Portal
What is Health Information Exchange (HIE)?
Health information exchange (HIE) is the transmission of healthcare related data among facilities, health information organizations (HIO) and government agencies according to national standards. HIE is an integral component of the health information technology (HIT) infrastructure under development in the United States and the associated Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).
How does an HIE improve the quality of healthcare?
Having the most accurate records can help avoid medical errors, duplicate testing, and adverse drug interactions. Improved communication through emails and automatic reminders (e.g., for appointments and medications) can keep both patient and caregiver "on track" with medications, procedure preparation, and follow up plans.
Through the HIE, doctors and hospitals have the most recent and complete healthcare records available when and where they need it. Having this information can improve the continuity of care for patients, particularly for those with multiple conditions and several different care providers. In addition, the HIE can improve the quality of emergency care when the attending caregiver has immediate access to that patient's medical history.
The HIE can save time and money too, with improved billing accuracy, reduced paper use and storage, and the ability to use the HIE information to complete some of the paperwork that patients need to sign.
What are the benefits of participating in Online Wellness Link (OWL)
- Increased access to medical history
- Easier, more timely access to lab and test results
- Improved communication and coordination of care across providers involved in a patient’s care
- Remote access to patient information from anywhere
- Easy access to patient results and reports—including emergency department visits—which improves continuity and quality of care
- Streamlined document management process saving you and your staff valuable time
- Reduction in paper received and used by your practice
How can health information exchange help my practice?
Health information exchange can:
- Improve the quality of patient care
- Improve competitive market position
- May improve reimbursement rates, and
- Improve customer service and patient loyalty
Key benefits to physicians include the ability to:
- Obtain real-time delivery of electronic results from clinical partners (e.g., labs, hospitals, imaging centers)
- Securely communicate between medical providers and facilities
- Easily search and manage patient medical information
- Reduce paper manually handled by office staff
- Rapidly create electronic referrals including clinical attachments
- Increase physician satisfaction
How can health information exchange help my patients?
Health information exchange benefits patients through improved quality of care, less chance of medical errors and better outcomes.
Will participating in health information exchange give the government additional access to my patients’ medical records?
State and federal reporting laws already require the sharing of certain health information to agencies that monitor public health issues. These releases are not prohibited under HIPAA. Also remember that the HIPAA Privacy Rule allows for the sharing of patient health information for treatment, payment and health care operations.
Do Medicaid and Medicare support health information exchange?
Yes, both Medicaid and Medicare support health information exchange.
Why is HIE important?
The goal of HIE is to facilitate access to and retrieval of clinical data to provide safer, more timely, efficient, effective, equitable, patient-centered care. HIE is also useful to public health authorities.
HIE also supports public health by facilitating the transmission, collection, and analysis of information related to health trends, infectious disease outbreaks, and disaster response. In addition to improved patient care, HIE can also help reduce provider and insurer expenses associated with duplicate tests, time involved in recovering missing patient information, and the time and materials costs associated with the paper, ink and office machinery required to manually print, scan, and fax documents, the physical mailing of entire patient charts, and manual phone communication to verify delivery of traditional communications, referrals, and test results.
HIE allows relevant information about the patient to be shared among care providers, as well as with the patient and family members caring for the patient.
What kind of information is available through Online Wellness Link (OWL)?
Labs, radiology reports, operative reports, consults, H&Ps, face sheets discharge summaries and CCD’s.
How would EHR/HIE be useful in an emergency?
When someone needs care in an emergency, that person might be far from home, unable to communicate or unable to remember key information, such as names and doses of prescription drugs. Allowing a physician to retrieve the patient’s records quickly and completely speeds the delivery of appropriate care, and avoids unnecessary duplicative testing, medical errors and extra costs. This is the ultimate goal the federal government has set for 2014.