Washington hospitals may resort to fax during health information network shutdown

An information network allowing hospitals in Skagit County, Wash., to securely share patient records was temporarily closed in March, leaving the organizations to resort to fax while the terms of a new agreement are negotiated, local news outlet GoSkagit.com reports.

The network was founded in 2008 by three county hospitals: Skagit Valley Hospital in Mt. Vernon, Wash., Island Hospital in Anacortes, Wash., and PeaceHealth United General Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, Wash. United General dropped out in 2010.

The information network became too expensive to maintain, so the hospitals are engaging a new partner, Reliance eHealth Collaborative. Island Hospital CEO Vince Oliver said his hospital spent about $400,000 a year maintaining the information network. He expects the hospital's financial responsibility to fall below $25,000 annually with the new partnership, according to the report.

Island Hospital uses the Meditech EHR, while Skagit Valley Hospital operates on Epic. It is unclear if the hospitals' EHR systems are interoperable without the information network. Mr. Oliver and the information network's former interim executive director told GoSkagit.com the hospitals can only communicate by fax while the network is down. However, Skagit Regional Health's board president and an Epic spokesperson said the Epic EHR can integrate with some other systems.

A final deal with Reliance eHealth Collaborative is expected in the coming weeks. Read more here.   


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