The metaphor Tom Gregorio used for the health care information flowing through the state was plumbing. It’s a massive, underground network that’s always being expanded on. And it’s vitally important.
It’s just lacking some of the fixtures — the hot-or-cold knobs to twist — that might make it more meaningful for everyday use.
But Gregorio, senior executive director of healthcare systems innovation at the New Jersey Innovation Institute, said there’s a project in his organization’s pipeline that may help address that.
The New Jersey Innovation Institute, a New Jersey Institute of Technology affiliate that has become the state’s designated entity for advancing health information-related technology, is partnering with the New Jersey Department of Health on new infrastructure involving the state’s patient health information.
NJII’s government grant-funded New Jersey Health Information Network, as it’s called, will facilitate the exchange of the electronic health records across different facilities, health information organizations and state health data sources.
Because these entities may have different systems for storing health records, Jim Cavanagh, executive director of the network, said simply trading health information between health care institutions has not been as easy as it sounds.
“There has long been a need to share information and get them out of silos in hospitals, physicians’ offices or long-term care facilities,” Cavanagh said. “Interoperability is a big issue right now with government in health care reform. It drives the ability to do population health management, as well as reducing health care costs and making it more efficient, too.”
NJII is in the market of responding to what policymakers are asking for in the health care arena, which was the impetus for this project several years back. Cavanagh said governmental entities have allowed for the creation of islands of patient care information — and have realized the need for bridges between them after the fact.
It was for various reasons that the organization was recognized as having the ability to achieve this in concert with the New Jersey Department of Health.
“It’s our combination of health care knowledge — the organization is really made up of people well versed in health care policy, because we’ve been executives in hospitals and health care systems for many years — but also understanding technology and putting a focus on innovation and new ways of doing things,” Cavanagh said.
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