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Thursday, June 18, 2015 3:45 PM

How interoperability helps patients and saves thousands

Written by Rich Murphy, Product Director - iatricSystems

Improving patient outcomes with interoperability image

One of the perks of being in the healthcare IT business is being able to actually see how IT solutions, and specifically interoperability, can really help improve outcomes — whether it's the day-to-day work of hospital staff, or better yet, if it has a direct, positive effect on patients.

It’s particularly great when I get to follow up with hospital IT teams to find out how an integration project has worked out for them over time.

One example is with St. Luke’s hospital in Duluth MN. They wanted to submit claims electronically to the Social Security Administration (SSA), so we worked with them to customize CCDs so they could send information in the format the SSA requires. This was an important project for St Luke’s because they knew that it would completely change the way they handled claims, and would help them serve their patients better.

They got so many benefits from this project, including:

  • Saved more than $10,000 annually in staff time by not having to manually compile records
  • Decreased the turn-around time for disability decisions from the SSA from 6 months to only weeks (and in some cases, days)
  • Allowed patients to receive care knowing whether it would be covered or not
  • Allowed collection of accounts receivables because of early disability determination

The project had its challenges. Because of the nature of records that the SSA requires, the electronic data had to include the full record across a period of time, instead of the standard incident record that's common in the standard format (C32).

Our team spoke with Clark Averill from St. Luke’s and he said, “The biggest win is for the patients. It’s really the peace of mind of the patients. They get to know what’s going on much faster. I think it’s really painful to have a disability or medical condition, or think that you’re disabled, and not know the status. That’s what we’ve gotten rid of — we’ve improved that process."

There's a lot of discussion nationally around interoperability, with the ONC setting guidelines and goals in the draft National Interoperability Roadmap released earlier this year. We asked Clark where he sees his organization and the nation moving forward with Interoperability. He said…

”With the mandates that are going to be coming down from the government with value-based purchasing, you’re going to be measured on the quality of care and the outcomes of those patients, and information is critical to making sure the outcomes are as good as they can be. The lack of information is often times a hindrance.”

Listen to the podcast interview with Clark from St. Luke’s — he has some great insight on how this project can be applied to other situations, and on the future of interoperability for his hospital. Is his hospital like yours? Listen to find out.


If you want to read the whole story, it was highlighted in the April edition of Executive Insightread it here.

If you have similar situations or want more information on the project, please feel free to contact me directly.