Virtua, CHOP Successfully Link Epic and Siemens EHR Systems

Recently, Marlton, N.J.-based Virtua and the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia expanded their existing relationship by connecting their EHR systems to allow providers from both systems to seamlessly share patient information.

Under CHOP and Virtua's current affiliation, CHOP physicians provide pediatric care in various subspecialties to Virtua patients.

When the two organizations decided to expand their relationship, CHOP utilized Epic's EHR system and Virtua utilized Siemen's. Rather than have one of the healthcare organizations switch to a new system for compatibility, the two systems were linked.

Tom Gordon, CIO and senior vice president of Virtua, says, "Clinicians like to work in a system they are familiar with." Rather than require clinicians to learn a new and unfamiliar EHR system, we were able to allow clinicians from each organization to continue to use the one they were familiar with. To do so, Virtua and CHOP had to "take HIE one step further" by linking the two systems and looping information from one system to the other, adds Mr. Gordon.

Virtua and CHOP developed a technical and operational approach to storing patient data in real time in both EHRs, just as if it had originally been created in those systems. To assist in this process, the organizations enlisted Alere Accountable Care Solutions' HIE. With the help of Alere, CHOP and Virtua were able to keep their own EHR systems while at the same time accessing all of a patient's data from the other organization's system.   

Another benefit of connecting the two systems is patients now have a unified medical record, says Mr. Gordon. The patient is initially seen and registered at Virtua; their information is then sent out from Virtua and picked up by CHOP's systems. Matching logic either matches the patient to their existing CHOP medical record or creates a new record in CHOP's EHR. Once the patient's record is matched or created, it loops back to Virtua via the HIE, which houses the unified patient medical record. "Both EHRs now store each other's medical record numbers, providing the basis for sharing clinical data and creating a seamless patient experience," says Mr. Gordon.

By linking the systems, there has also been a reduction in human error, says Mr. Gordon. There is no longer a need for a middleman for scheduling and registration at both organizations. Human error is reduced because there isn't a physical person transferring information from one system to the other.  

If the two systems were not linked there would naturally be more "gaps and mistakes because there would have been people at each organization putting the information in," says Mr. Gordon. Now, "when data is put in one registration system it flows through to the other system," he adds.

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