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Improving healthcare in our region through data sharing

August 10, 2018

At every doctor’s appointment, my grandmother would bring a grocery bag full of her medications. That way, the physician would know what she was talking about when she would say “the little yellow pill makes my stomach hurt.” Otherwise, it would be very difficult for her physicians to track the course of her treatments, labs, and prescriptions with each of her specialists.

Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) were developed to help make health information sharing easier. HIEs centralize health information from across different hospitals and providers in real time, to create an electronic community health record for each patient. This community health record enables physicians to see the full picture of a patient’s health in one place whenever they need it, including diagnoses, labs, imaging reports, vital signs, and medications from different providers across the community.

Our region’s HIE is called PHIX. PHIX is a nonprofit organization that connects healthcare providers in the region. Currently, connections have been made with the following providers: The Hospitals of Providence, University Medical Center of El Paso, El Paso Children’s Hospital, and the Veteran’s Administration. PHIX is also partnering with the Department of Defense, Emergence Health Network, Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso, The City of El Paso Department of Public Health, Project Vida, Centro San Vicente, El Paso Health, the El Paso County Medical Society, and the Paso del Norte Health Foundation.

These partners are using PHIX to improve healthcare in the region. In Emergency Departments for example, physicians use the HIE when they need better information on patients’ medical history. An El Paso physician found PHIX particularly helpful when patients arrive in cardiac arrest or trauma. A recent example he shared was related to a woman that arrived at an El Paso hospital in cardiac arrest and unable to speak. Unaware of the patient’s medical background, the physician searched for her community health record in the El Paso HIE and found information on her cardiac conditions and medications from other health organizations. With the help of this additional information, he was able to provide the woman with effective care.

PHIX is also working with the City of El Paso Department of Public Health to improve access to screenings and other services that their clients’ may need. As Public Health Director, Robert Resendes, describes, “This project offers a holistic approach to patients using a medical data hub to evaluate a person’s needs. We are able to use the system by cross referencing out clients’ information to make sure if they need further services such as cancer screenings or vaccinations, then they are either provided the care or are directed to the proper venues.” The City of El Paso recently received a Promising Practice award for this project from the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO).

By having a strong network of physicians and health organizations, along with investing in local technical resources, there is significant potential to improve the efficiency, quality and safety of patient care in El Paso.

To learn more about PHIX, visit phixnetwork.org or contact our office at 915-242-0674 or ehartmann@phixnetwork.org.

Written by: Emily Hartmann, Executive Director, PHIX

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