New Critical Access Hospitals to Become HIE Participants

Date: October 16th, 2013Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: HIE, CORHIO Network, Colorado Hospitals & Health Systems

Rio Grande Hospital and Estes Park Medical Center sign agreements to participate in CORHIO's health information exchange network and join four other critical access hospitals connected to, or in process to connect to, the CORHIO network

Two new critical access hospitals (CAHs) have signed up to participate with the CORHIO health information exchange (HIE). One of those is Rio Grande Hospital, a 17-bed CAH in Del Norte that serves residents in the western part of the San Luis Valley. The other is Estes Park Medical Center, a 25-bed CAH in southwestern Larimer County at the base of Rocky Mountain National Park.

“From the inception of CORHIO, we’ve looked forward to being part of Colorado’s health information exchange,” says Gary Hall, Vice President of Information Services/CIO at Estes Park Medical Center. “As a small critical-access hospital in an isolated mountain area, the need to connect is critical to our success and to the well-being of our patients. We see CORHIO as an essential expansion of our ability to communicate and share patient information in a secure, rapid fashion. CORHIO helps advance and streamline our work for Meaningful Use attestation and we expect that our relationship with CORHIO will quickly become an indispensable part of our environment. We fully intend, in a few months, to ask, ‘How did we ever do it without CORHIO?’”

Health Information Exchange to Improve Care Coordination

Both hospitals serve small towns and remote areas of the state and are vital to the residents and visitors in their areas. As a result of these hospitals’ connections to CORHIO, care coordination for patients at these facilities will improve, especially when their medical needs require transfer to a more comprehensive facility in another part of the state. Because these CAHs will be sending data into the HIE, other hospitals and providers along the Front Range will have electronic access to patient information that they normally would obtain via fax or phone.

"The Salud Family Health Center in Estes Park is excited to partner with the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization," says Don Gutstadt, VP of Medical Services. "This opportunity will allow our staff in Estes Park to quickly obtain patient information from Estes Park Medical Center that is accurate, confidential and easily accessible. The ability to obtain this information will enable our staff to view records from a patients' hospital or ER visit while the patient is still in the office, which will result in decreased duplicate testing and overall better health for the patient."

CORHIO’s Progress With Critical Access Hospitals

East Morgan County Hospital in Brush, part of the Banner Health system, was the first Critical Access Hospital to connect to CORHIO’s health information exchange in 2012. In addition to Rio Grande Hospital and Estes Park Medical Center, three more CAHs are under agreement with CORHIO and are in different stages of implementation:

  • Conejos County Hospital in La Jara
  • Pagosa Springs Medical Center in Pagosa Springs
  • Southwest Memorial Hospital in Cortez

Regional Extension Center Supporting Critical Access Hospitals With EHRs and Meaningful Use

The Colorado Regional Extension Center (REC) is working with Critical Access Hospitals to help them implement electronic health record systems and earn Meaningful Use incentive funds. Out of the 29 certified CAHs in the state, 28 are participating in REC services, 25 have gone live on an EHR, and 21 have reached Meaningful Use. The Colorado Rural Health Center partners with the REC to assist CAHs throughout the state.

“The Colorado Rural Health Center is proud to note the great successes our rural hospitals and CAHs have had in their EHR implementations and reaching Meaningful Use,” says David Ginsberg, Senior Advisor, Colorado Rural Health Center. “This is a daunting challenge for small rural hospitals that lack resources and funding. With the great support of the REC, program we’ve been able to assist 20 hospitals in achieving Meaningful Use with at least another three or four who will reach it in October. I am proud to say that 73% of the CAHs we work with have reached Meaningful Use."

Are you attending the Colorado Rural Health Conference this week? Please stop by the CORHIO information table in the Exhibitor area for details on health information exchange, electronic health records, and Meaningful Use. For more details on the conference, see the CRHC website.