Health Information Exchange Laboratory
Health Information Exchange (HIE) Laboratory
- Strategic collaboration between Health IT industry and academia
- Multiple-HIE training laboratory simulates real world
- Program graduates seeking jobs in Health IT see 92% placement rate
The University of Texas at Austin Health Information Exchange (HIE) laboratory, funded by the Longhorn Innovation Fund for Technology, is a collaboration between the university’s Health IT program and two major corporate HIE software vendors, Information Corporation of America (ICA) and Orion Health, together with two leading Electronic Health Record (EHR) software companies, eClinicalWorks and e-MDs.
This laboratory models the “network of networks” architected by the Texas Health Services Authority (THSA) for the State of Texas by creating a simulated “Central Texas Regional HIE” and “North Texas Regional HIE” comprising virtual medical practices “located” in Austin, Houston, Dallas, and Amarillo, using “cloud computing.” The vision is to grow and develop this “living laboratory” over time by incorporating new capabilities and interfaces with additional Health IT industry partners.
The two HIEs in the laboratory use simulated patient data, yet patient consent is still required through “opt-in” procedures in the respective EHRs. Patient privacy and security are protected in the Orion HIE portal, which requires students to “break the privacy seal” (an auditable event) in order to view patient health information during role-playing exercises. Patient data are exchanged between the virtual medical practices in both HIEs using standards-based Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs). The CCDs summarize information from patient records including problems, medications, vital signs, past medical history, immunizations, laboratory and other orders and results. All of these capabilities are accessible from more than 30 dedicated Health IT program computers.
The Texas Health IT Community recognizes the importance of UT Austin’s HIE laboratory as a vital resource for meeting the national shortage of well-trained, entry-level professionals in Health IT professions. Health IT leaders across industry, government and academia have provided the following commentary on the transformative benefits provided by the HIE laboratory.
Commentary by Health IT Leaders in Industry, Government and Academia:
Information Corporation of America (ICA)
“The University of Texas at Austin has demonstrated national thought leadership in the area of Health IT and HIE through the quality of students it is attracting and by developing an environment for testing provider-to-provider healthcare technology,” said Gary Zegiestowsky, chief executive officer of ICA. “Further, the spirit of collaboration fostered by this program will help build the foundation for transforming healthcare. The HIE Laboratory will provide a necessary proving ground for the further development of HIE within the state of Texas. By engaging hospitals, payers, labs, public health, physicians and pharmacies, this program will enable students from the university to have a comprehensive view of health information technology nationally and especially as it pertains to the state of Texas.”
“Orion Health is proud to be a key contributor to the University of Texas at Austin’s innovative program to educate tomorrow’s healthcare leaders about health information exchange,” said Paul Viskovich, president of Orion Health North America. “Orion Health’s exchange platform, which is used nationwide by prestigious public and private HIEs, provides UT students with a comprehensive HIE solution suite from which to learn about patient data sharing among clinicians.”
“One major benefit of electronic health records is the ability to easily exchange relevant information with other care givers,” said Girish Kumar Navani, CEO and co-founder of eClinicalWorks. “The UT Health IT program prepares students by exposing them to Health Information Exchange operations at the state and national levels, giving them a real-world taste of advantages gained from sharing data between healthcare providers that are treating the same patient. This aids them in making decisions based on complete, real-time information.”
“e-MDs is delighted to be a founding partner of The University of Texas Health Information Technology program, providing students with an understanding of the clinical and financial benefits of Health Information Exchange,” stated Dr. David L. Winn, MD, FAAFP, e-MDs Chairman and CEO. “The UT HIE Laboratory, the first of its kind in the country, provides tremendous value for students because of the involvement of numerous healthcare industry entities. Students enter the healthcare workforce with practical understanding of the complexities, regulatory environment, technology factors, and dynamics of dealing with multiple stakeholders that are factors in sustaining a successful HIE.”
Stephen Palmer, Director, Office of e-Health Coordination, Texas Health and Human Services Commission
“The UT HIE Laboratory has enormous potential to enable the health IT community to test and prove key concepts, like interoperability. The program will allow students to gain first-hand experience that will be a valuable asset to future employers,”said Stephen Palmer, Director of the Office of e-Health Coordination for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and the State Health Information Technology (HIT) Coordinator.
Nora Belcher, Executive Director Texas e-Health Alliance
"When the Texas e-Health Alliance first approached the University of Texas at Austin about developing health information technology training three years ago, we were hopeful that we could jointly produce a program that would prepare students for immediate careers working with electronic medical records," said Nora Belcher, Executive Director of the Texas e-Health Alliance. "Not only has that part of the program succeeded beyond our expectations, the establishment of the HIE Laboratory will now allow the program and its graduates to contribute to the state's broader goal of having a health information exchange infrastructure that improves health care for everyone in Texas. The extraordinary public-private partnership is the reason Texas leads the nation in HIT workforce development."
Dr. William Sage, Vice Provost for Health Affairs, The University of Texas at Austin
"With the launch of our new HIE learning lab, UT Austin's Health IT Certificate students have the future of American health care in their hands. Health information exchange is a critical step in improving the efficiency and effectiveness of the health care system in Texas and beyond. I applaud the vision of our faculty and the enthusiastic support of our private sector partners in making this critical resource available to our students," commented William M. Sage, M.D., JD, Vice Provost for Health Affairs, James R. Dougherty Chair for Faculty Excellence, The University of Texas at Austin.
Mr. Michael Field, PMP, HIE Laboratory Project Manager
“It has been a real privilege to work with the business and technical teams of four leading providers of EHR and HIE technology over the past year to bring this unique HIE laboratory at UT Austin to life! The hands-on experiences of more than 120 students so far is just the beginning, as the university will be reaching out soon to additional vendors to further extend the capabilities of this “living laboratory.”
Commentary by Students in the Fall 2012 Health IT Certificate Program:
“Working in the HIE laboratory has taught me how useful and easy it is to access patient’s important medical information through a Continuity of Care Document (CCD). I have also had the opportunity to learn where HIEs need to be improved to maximize quality of care.” – S. Standifer
“The hands-on HIE experience helped me to gain a better understanding of what information can be transmitted between doctors and how useful that information can be. Now I really get why HIEs are so important and that they are key to the continuity of care of a patient” – S. Zimmerman
“It was very beneficial to be able to get our hands on this exclusive technology after learning about health information exchanges in class. This one-of-a-kind lab at the University of Texas at Austin has allowed us to connect a concept from lecture to a real-world application.” – A. Ray
“This software really allows you to experience health information exchange between two different cities and providers. You can see how valuable this will be for a patient’s continuity of care.” – A. Momin
“This technology is going to lead to better care,” says Dr. Field, “and it’s going to bend the cost curve. Medical professionals throughout the connected care community will have more accurate, up-to-date patient information enabling better diagnoses and more effective treatments. With the adoption of Stage 2 meaningful use, HIEs will be instrumental in facilitating the submission of electronic laboratory data, immunization data, and syndromic surveillance data to public health practice agencies, which, in turn, will lead to improved population health. ”
The outcome for the students trained in HIE laboratory software is simple--jobs. So far the Health IT program has placed more than 90 percent of its graduates who sought employment in the healthcare field. Students are being hired as consultants, project managers, software developers, business analysts, software trainers, implementation specialists, as sales people for the software companies, and by state agencies to help craft or integrate new health policies. Traditionally the only way to learn many of these skills was to get hired by a healthcare company and learn on the job. This nine-week training program was based on input from multiple Health IT and healthcare partners and includes hands-on experience with the software, guest lecturers from industry, and a two-week practicum that places students in the field. The results are exemplary--students are getting hired, and employers comment that certificate program graduates often know more on their first day than the existing employees do after years on the job.
About The University of Texas at Austin Health IT Certificate Program
The Health Information Technology (Health IT) Certificate Program at The University of Texas at Austin has gained national attention for its intensive, 9-week program leading to a certificate in Health Information Technology and Health Information Exchange. This program is designed to “fast track” university graduates into this rapidly evolving field and to provide students with a comprehensive curriculum of healthcare policy, economics, technology, data systems and business practices. The curriculum was designed to meet the skills and workforce training requirements identified by major Health IT industry and healthcare sponsors of the certificate program. For more information on The University of Texas at Austin Health IT Certificate Program, please go to: http://www.biosci.utexas.edu/healthit/