Verizon Extends Medical Data Exchange to Support More Record Types

Verizon expands the types of health records it can support with its Medical Data Exchange to move beyond transcription toward X-rays and lab results.

Verizon Business has announced an expansion of its Medical Data Exchange Web platform to incorporate a larger variety of data, more providers and a new name for its exchange consortium.

Since the exchange was first launched in March, Verizon has allowed for dictated notes to be shared from transcriptionist to physician and from physician to physician. Now the company has expanded the exchange to allow medical professionals to share X-rays and lab results. With the loosening of criteria for data sharing, more health care providers are able to share EHRs (electronic health records).

With the expansion unveiled Oct. 14, providers will also now include large health systems, rural hospitals and small physician practices, according to Verizon. All providers are screened and meet HIPAA security requirements.

With the expansion of the types of records that can be shared as well as the increased variation in the types of providers participating, Verizon has changed the name of the Medical Transcription Service Consortium to the Medical Data Exchange Consortium.

ICSA Labs, an independent division of Verizon Business, manages the consortium in a neutral role.

According to Verizon, these efforts move the company further toward meaningful use of EHRs and interoperability among data platforms and providers, both requirements for health care companies to qualify for federal stimulus funds under HITECH (the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act).

Verizon says the expansion of the exchange and easier sharing of digital records will lead to faster patient diagnoses, increase productivity for health care facilities and boost cost efficiency for providers.

Among the companies Verizon is collaborating with on the exchange is MD-IT, a firm that offers medical documentation software, an EMR (electronic medical record) platform and medical transcription. MD-IT provides input to Verizon on the development of the exchange from a software standpoint, according to Robin Daigh, MD-IT's vice president of marketing and business development.

"The exchange is helping us in a really simple-to-use way to address meaningful use for our clients," Daigh told eWEEK.

According to Steve Archer, senior manager of Verizon's Innovation Incubator Group, the challenge for the company in expanding the data exchange was to determine how to move beyond fax and snail mail exchange to digital. "When this was first put out, the first users of the data exchange were primarily medical transcription service organizations, the initial users on the exchange," Archer told eWEEK.

Daigh notes the importance of the text documents no longer getting reduced to images. "It replaces fax and eliminates a need to create interfaces with each of the different provider solutions out there on the vendors' side," Daigh explained.

Among the new members joining the exchange are Alert Notification, an emergency communication and health records provider, and Amaji, a firm that provides digital clinical documentation services.

Verizon has also signed up Tolven, an open-source health informatics software company, and NLP International, a provider of NLP (natural language processing) applications.

Meanwhile, Verizon will provide IT consulting services to help providers use the exchange. "We offer different types of toolkits to get people on the exchange," Ardi Kazarian, senior product manager for Verizon's Medical Data Exchange, told eWEEK. "We have a .NET, a Java and a Ruby [toolkit], We have professional services that can help with the toolkit and walk you through different things."

Daigh explained how Verizon's data exchange works well for MD-IT. "You can participate if you have an EMR or if you don't, or with straight client-based system or straight Web-based system, as long as you can have Internet access," Daigh said. "I really like that element of it," she continued. "It doesn't require everybody to be in lockstep fashion. We can move forward at different rates and move health information electronically."