IBM, Aetna, Medens Build Health Network for Doctors in Puerto Rico

IBM and Aetna have built a health information exchange in Puerto Rico with help from Medens' EHR cloud computing platform.

IBM and ActiveHealth, a unit of Aetna, along with Medens, a cloud computing and health care IT company based in Puerto Rico, have launched a cloud health care network for some 11,000 physicians working in the commonwealth.

Medens will provide what it says is the first medical cloud computing network for Puerto Rico, while IBM will contribute its interoperable HIE (health information exchange) technology to allow physicians to access and share medical data securely.

Built on an SOA (service-oriented architecture), IBM's HIE allows physicians to share and exchange medical records, no matter the source, location or format.

The project will allow physicians in Puerto Rico to create and connect EHRs (electronic health records) and access health analytics through a secure, private cloud.

Using the service, doctors will also be able to access lab data and information on prescriptions and hospital stays.

Less than 6 percent of physicians use health care IT technology such as EHRs in Puerto Rico, IBM reports.

"Not only will this provide the physicians and patients of Puerto Rico access to important new health information technology, it also provides them the tools to redesign the way they deliver care to support emerging accountable care and patient-centered medical home models," Orlando Fiallo, Medens' president, wrote in a statement. "This is the type of care that will truly transform our health care system in Puerto Rico and allow physicians to be reimbursed based on the quality of care, not simply the number of procedures performed."

Under the arrangement, health care software developer SOAPware will make its EMR+Practice Management System available on Medens' cloud network.

SOAPware's EHR application allows medical practices to manage the financial aspects of patient accounts, including charts, charges, payments and adjustments. It also features order entry, coding for patient visits, PDF document scanning, medical history integration and e-prescribing.

Doctors will be able to access medical data and gain support for care decisions through Aetna's ActiveHealth CareEngine, which culls member data from medical and pharmacy claims, lab reports and patients to identify care gaps and medical errors.

Using the Medens Cloud, doctors, nurses, aides, therapists and pharmacists will be able to access and share patient information.

Meanwhile, patients will be able to access the Medens Cloud to keep their PHRs (personal health records) current with medical histories and information on medication from doctors. Medens plans to expand its network elsewhere in the United States.

By incorporating data from multiple sources, the medical cloud platform will allow doctors to catch gaps in care, research drug interactions and watch health trends among patients, such as chronic conditions, IBM reports.

"Improving patient care starts with creating a more connected health system and making it easier for caregivers to coordinate around their patients' needs," said Robert Merkel, vice president and health care industry leader for IBM Global Business Services, in a statement. "There is a real opportunity to create smarter, more efficient health care throughout Puerto Rico, and the work under way there is a model for the rest of the nation."

In August, Aetna and IBM worked together on its Collaborative Care Solution for the Sharp Community Medical Group in San Diego to allow 200 primary care physicians and 500 specialists to use a health cloud in that region.

Another HIE provider, Sandlot, recently announced that it has reached 1.5 million patients for its HIE in Texas.