Various mandated changes looming on the horizon will not allow this practice to continue, for communication and cooperation between departments is essential. Therefore, the COO has made that my major function and the following are my recommendations for doing so. Discussion First, I will present background information as to why these changes are so necessary. President Bush signed Executive Order 13335 in 2004 mandating that Electronic Health Records (EHR) will be in place nationwide within ten years. Congress went a step farther, creating the 2009 Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH), and President Obama signed it into law. The act extended the deadline to 2015 but that is only two years away. After that, health facilities such as Toledo stand to lose millions of dollars in Federal Medicare and Medicaid monies if they are not in compliance. All would agree that would be a serious financial blow to our center. Fortunately, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has created the HIT coordinator to help us navigate through the seemingly complex maze of regulations (HHS, 2013). There is a nonprofit organization called Health Level Seven (HL7), which has developed a series of standards generally accepted by both the health community and HHS and it is the intention of Toledo to comply with HL7 initiatives. Yet Corepoint points out that HL7 is a “non-standard standard” (2009) meaning that as no two snowflakes are alike, neither are any two healthcare facilities the same. The main point is that Toledo complies with the laws within the specific timeframe and conformity with HL7 standards will ensure this occurs. Much time and money has spent on developing the software currently utilized by Toledo’s various departments and I do not intend to dismantle any of their operations. Rather, it is my recommendation that we purchase new hardware that can accommodate all of the departments’ current software systems. Interfaces take into account the lack of interchange between clinics and are commercially available, improving communication and interoperability. That is where HL7 comes into play. Without it, my staff and I would be forced to create said interface from scratch, a costly and time consuming process. Fortunately, HL7 V2 brought together software vendors and informatics specialists such as me to create said commercial products. Although V3 has largely superseded V2 in Europe, it will be some years before that happens in the United States, so Toledo will concentrate on V2 compliance. One of the major concerns of each clinical head is maintaining patient and provider privacy, still another requirement of Federal law. Therefore, it is tantamount that the interfaces provide the security necessary to ensure only the necessary information for patient care be provided across Toledo’s health informatics network. There is a very interesting case study concerning Lake Forest Hospital in Illinois (CDW 2013), which was faced with the same dilemma, In addition, when the clinics interfaced, the physicians and nurses had many passwords for the different clinical access (one for lab results, one for pharmaceutical, etc.).
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