Caradigm, Keystone Beacon Enable Electronic Data Sharing Without EHRs

GE-Microsoft joint venture Caradigm and the Geisinger-led Keystone Beacon Community have announced a way for nursing homes to share data with or without electronic health records.

Regional health information exchanges are known for interconnecting patient data from electronic health records compiled by various health care providers, but GE-Microsoft joint health care venture Caradigm and the Geisinger-led Keystone Beacon Community have introduced an alternative method of incorporating patient data.

Located in Central Pennsylvania, Keystone Beacon is a federally funded initiative focused on building and strengthening local health IT infrastructure. Keystone Beacon's providers include doctors, hospitals and long-term care facilities.

Using Caradigm's data-extraction tool called the MDS-to-CCD Transformer, Keystone Beacon will be able to transmit electronic patient assessments known as minimum data sets (MDSes) into a Continuity of Care Document (MDS-to-CCD Transformer). This data is compiled and shared only with patients' prior consent.

An MDS allows nursing homes to meet a requirement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) that they provide an assessment of residents' health. CCD is a standard for the electronic exchange of patient summaries.

Announced Aug. 9, the MDS-to-CCD Transformer provides a simple and secure way for nursing facilities to share data in a health information exchange (HIE) if they've yet to invest in a full-scale EHR platform, Geisinger and Microsoft reported.

Providers save on the cost of full EHR platforms, and patients avoid unnecessary tests through the additional data sharing and collaboration.

"The ability to more easily exchange information about our residents' medical treatment will enable us to offer more complete assessments of their needs when they are first admitted and after they receive care at another facility," Tom Conlin, chief operating officer of Maria Joseph Continuing Care Community, said in a statement. "Better communication among health care providers can avoid unnecessary costs and procedures and will help skilled nursing facilities to provide the most personalized care possible."

The MDS-to-CCD Transformer will enable the exchange of health data for nursing facilities across the United States, said Dr. Jim Walker, Geisinger Health System's chief health information officer.

Recognized for its innovation with EHRs, Geisinger is an integrated health services organization serving more than 2.6 million residents in 44 counties throughout central and northeastern Pennsylvania.

"Any skilled nursing facility can now share a patient's information inexpensively and securely, which helps the patient's care team work better together," Walker said in a statement.

This tool extracts data from patients' EHRs automatically.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT established the Beacon Community Program to provide $250 million over three years to 17 communities that have made progress with EHR adoption and exchange of health data. Keystone Beacon received more than $16 million to allow for the coordination of care and use of health IT in a five-county area.

Keystone Beacon is working on identifying patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and heart failure within its community. It will use the data to develop better care for patients at a lower cost and reduce hospital admissions.

The MDS-to-CCD Transformer extracts patient-care information from records, transforms it into CCDs and shares it with a designated HIE. Nursing facilities must transmit minimum data sets (MDSes) to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid under federal law.

When the data is converted into CCD format, it's sent to an HIE, where any licensed clinician can access the data if they agreed to patient confidentiality measures.

"Putting patients at the center of care means establishing strong connections among a community's health care providers, especially post-acute care organizations," said Michael Simpson, CEO of Caradigm.

By enabling patient data sharing between nursing facilities and regional HIEs, multiple doctors in a health system will be able to access patient data and improve care, Simpson suggested. HIE data includes information on a patient diagnosis and status.

GE and Microsoft formed Caradigm in June 2012 to give clinicians, administrators and finance teams insight into data to help manage a patient population's chronic conditions as well as to reduce hospital readmissions and hospital-acquired conditions.