Fresenius Kidney Care centers share approximately 650,000 documents monthly with providers, including both outgoing documents shared with providers caring for current patients and incoming documents from other providers, as part of a new health information exchange service launched in 2020.
Through a partnership with Cerner, Fresenius Kidney Care has deployed CommonWell Health Alliance data exchange services enabling near real-time exchange of critical patient health information. With the connection to CommonWell and its bridge to the Carequality Interoperability Framework, care team members can locate, exchange, and view patient health documents from more than 600,000 providers and 4200 hospitals across the country.
“Every day, nurses and doctors are documenting patient care, and creating billions of electronic health records,” states Dr. Emel Hamilton, Vice President of Clinical Support and Informatics at Fresenius Kidney Care. “But we need to harness this information to create opportunities to address care coordination issues in health care. Health care information should follow the patient as they connect with different providers. If we want to achieve better patient care, improve outcomes, and reduce health care costs, then ultimately, we must focus on care coordination.”
The key advantage of the health information exchange (HIE) is seamless electronic collaboration among participating providers around each patient under their care. This not only allows providers to share relevant data about their patients easily and efficiently but has the potential to improve outcomes for all patients. Health records from different providers are often in separate systems that are not directly connected. The exchange enables much faster and easier sharing of a recent dialysis treatment or a hospital discharge summary between these two providers, with the goal of improving care.
The first step towards care coordination has been the implementation of electronic health records (EHR) across the country over the past two decades. Currently, 9 in 10 office-based physicians have adopted EHR and over 95% of hospitals implemented EHR. For optimal care coordination and to improve patient care quality and efficiency, the focus is shifting to interoperability, as these systems must communicate with each other to truly advance patient care and improve care coordination.
“I use the system often,” says Fresenius Kidney Care Home Therapies Nurse, Michelle Batross. “There is a wealth of information I find in this system. I scan it periodically to view patient appointments outside of our facility. Our care teams get the full picture, essentially, and it helps us understand what is really going on with our patients. It is a huge help to not only healthcare providers, but to patients, as well.”
The majority of Fresenius Kidney Care staff report that they are saving valuable time by retrieving the electronic documents from the HIE because they are able to receive near real-time updates of reports, such as discharge summaries, history and physicals, vaccination records, vascular access surgery information, documentation from transplant centers, and more.
The safe and effective transfer of a patient’s medical care information relies on effective provider communication, and HIE augments that process. This document exchange also centers patient care by allowing healthcare providers throughout the world to work together to share key clinical information to improve patient quality, safety, and efficiency of healthcare.
“I would encourage everyone to use this system,” says Lisa Powers, Home Therapies Nurse at Fresenius Kidney Care. “This easy access to exchange documents to manage patient health records will improve the overall quality of care. If there is flow between our centers and the hospitals, and everyone knows what is going on, it is extremely helpful for both the patients and providers. Plus, the system is easy to use.”