Due to the inabilities of health systems to digitally interact based on the individual institutions’ proprietary systems, eHealth Global Technologies has created a means for hospitals to reach out and obtain digital medical records, as well as digitizing their own paper environment, which the company showcased at the 2008 HIMSS conference in Orlando, Fla.
“We become a business associate of the institution, and the hospital doesn’t have to alter their workflow at all. Instead of a hospital or patient scrambling to obtain data from various institutions, they simply contract with us to obtain the data needed. eHealth Global will obtain those patient records, and digitize them as well,” Ken Rosenfeld, president of eHealth Global, told Health Imaging News.
“We’ll get images on film, CDs, copied records faxed or shipped to us, or when we can, digitally transferred to us, we compile all that information and transfer it to a digital format; a digital package of the requested information. Then, depending on the customer, we can deliver it in encrypted files; we have online systems where the hospitals can view the information that we have collected, including documents and radiology images; or, we can actually transfer into their existing systems, such as their PACS,” Rosenfeld said.
In order to achieve regulatory compliancy, eHealth Global signs a business associate agreement with the hospitals, as the requester of the information. “Under the continuity of care provisions in HIPAA, care providers are allowed to request records from other care providers, so we’re acting as if we’re the hospital, as their business associate when requesting the information,” Rosenfeld explained.
He pointed out that some hospitals and state laws do require patient consent for certain information, but it is not required by HIPAA. As a result, the company has developed an online mechanism to obtain patient consent.
Rosenfeld also explained that many of their customers specialize in organ transplants, and formerly, it took the institutions months to obtain the records that they needed to complete the evaluation and to begin with the transplant. “We’re getting the information in a matter of days, sometimes hours,” he said.
At HIMSS this year, the company also highlighted its eHealthLoader, which allows hospitals and health systems to bring legacy film or paper data into your digital information systems. The service will take an institution’s radiology film libraries and folders of paper medical records, and move them into a PACS and/or an EMR. Through the use of DICOM and/or HL7, the company will take the hospital’s paper- and film- based records, digitize them with their equipment, including the latest radiology film digitizers, and send them into the hospital’s internal systems over a VPN.
The new service allows eHealth Global to extend beyond exchange, and to help their customers update the record-keeping systems in various healthcare facilities.
The company said it can guarantee turn-around times on specific volumes of data, through batch processing, so that hospitals will not be without historical records for long.