Science & Technology
4:34 pm
Tue February 21, 2012

Highmark Launching First Statewide Health Information Exchange

Highmark has chosen Verizon to develop Pennsylvania's first comprehensive health information exchange (HIE). Doctors will be able to enter a patient's information into a system that will then be accessible by other physicians treating that patient.

"Health information exchanges are designed to provide a clearinghouse for health care providers and hospitals to share and exchange information to improve patient care," said Aaron Billger, a spokesman for Highmark.

He says patient care will be improved by cutting down or eliminating duplicative diagnostic testing, getting information to health care providers more quickly and incorporating stronger safety measures, such as making sure all prescribed medications can be mixed safely.

"The system that will be in place follows and meets all HIPA standards and privacy is at the core of everything that's based on the system," said Billger. "Only patient-specific information related to you will be accessible by your physician. Other information, such as clinical quality standards, will be presented in an aggregate where there will be no personally identified information."

The platform consolidates patient clinical data from different providers and translates the information into a standardized format which can then be accessed securely via the internet.

Verizon Enterprise Solutions will implement and manage the technology infrastructure for the HIE, which is expected to be extended statewide in the next two years. The first health care organization to join the Highmark project is West Penn Allegheny Health System, which is in the process of being purchased by Highmark. Five of the health system's hospitals will begin to use the HIE within the next few months.