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Cleveland Clinic&MetroHealth Collaborate to Share Electronic Medical Records

Pilot project already enhancing patient care

January 5, 2011

Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth have joined forces to eliminate a traditional barrier to seamless patient care by linking their emergency departments’ electronic medical records (EMRs), the first connection of its kind in Northeast Ohio.

This pilot project – which is the first step toward connecting the EMRs throughout the two health systems – began October 20, 2010. Medical team members at Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth involved in approximately 200 patient cases where patient data has been shared electronically thus far, say it has improved patient care by immediately providing more complete medical histories, eliminating the need for unnecessary diagnostic tests and allowing for faster, more accurate diagnoses.

“This collaboration will allow us to dramatically improve patient care,” said Charles Emerman, MD, Chair of Emergency Medicine at MetroHealth. “We don’t have to wait for phones to be answered or paperwork to be faxed. We won’t have to make emergency medical decisions with incomplete information. With access to the patient’s medical records, we’ll provide the right care immediately. For example, if a Cleveland Clinic patient comes to the MetroHealth emergency room following a car accident, we can immediately see if the patient ever had a stroke and is on blood-thinners. That information makes a difference in the care decisions we make. This will help us save lives.”

This connection is possible because both Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth have an EMR system through the Epic Corporation. Epic created a program called CareEverywhere which allows hospital systems with its EMR system to share records through proper patient authorization. Through this program, Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth now have access to a nationwide network of 43 healthcare organization, representing more than 240 hospitals and 2,000 clinics. Wherever the patient goes – between healthcare systems in the same town or across state and national borders – the clinicians providing care can have the authorized information they need, as long as the other hospital is part of the CareEverywhere network, too.

“It’s critical to create tools that allow hospitals to communicate with one another and gain quick access to medical information whenever and wherever physicians need it,” said C. Martin Harris, MD, Chief Information Officer, Cleveland Clinic. “Through innovative solutions like this, we are creating a more accountable, connected healthcare system, expanding our ability to care for patients and allowing doctors at both MetroHealth and Cleveland Clinic to work together as a team to get the right information for the right person at the right time.”

The plan is to expand this pilot program to various settings of care throughout the two hospital systems this year. “For example, sometimes a patient may be admitted to MetroHealth, but has received primary care or specialty care at the Cleveland Clinic or vice versa,” said David Kaelber, MD, PhD, MPH, Chief Medical Informatics Officer for MetroHealth. “The expansion of this program beyond the Emergency Departments will allow providers in inpatient, primary care and specialty care settings to enjoy the benefits of electronic medical record sharing between the two healthcare systems. MetroHealth plans to roll this out system-wide next week.”

In addition, there are a handful of other healthcare organizations in the area that have implemented or are in the process of implementing an Epic EMR system, including Kaiser Permanente, Neighborhood Family Practice, Care Alliance, and Akron Children’s Hospital. So there is potential for greater sharing of EMR information in the future.

Over the next several years, the HITECH Act, which was part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (Stimulus Bill), requires healthcare systems across the country to electronically exchange data. HITECH, coupled with the national healthcare reform act, strives to create a delivery system that controls cost, improves quality and efficiency and cares for the patient across the continuum of disease; regardless of where they receive care. With this project, Cleveland Clinic and MetroHealth are implementing some of these specific tools to meet these requirements ahead of schedule.

CareEverywhere continues the joint commitment of MetroHealth and Cleveland Clinic to place patients at the center of their medical care. Most recently, the two systems have also collaborated on the Northern Ohio Trauma System (NOTS) to achieve the best possible outcomes for injured patients by coordinating existing trauma resources.

CareEverywhere provides physicians with a patient’s complete authorized medical record, enabling better care, while also reducing health care costs. Experts estimate that approximately 14 percent of lab and imaging tests – which total about $8 billion annually in the U.S. – are redundant and would not be ordered if the treating physician had complete access to a patient's health information. CareEverywhere can also help avoid preventable medication errors – such as drug interactions or allergies – by providing a complete inventory of a patient’s prescriptions.

About Cleveland Clinic

Cleveland Clinic, located in Cleveland, Ohio, is a not-for-profit multispecialty academic medical center that integrates clinical and hospital care with research and education. It was founded in 1921 by four renowned physicians with a vision of providing outstanding patient care based upon the principles of cooperation, compassion and innovation. U.S. News & World Report consistently names Cleveland Clinic as one of the nation’s best hospitals in its annual “America’s Best Hospitals” survey. About 2,100 full-time salaried physicians and researchers and 11,000 nurses represent 120 medical specialties and subspecialties. In addition to its main campus, Cleveland Clinic operates nine community hospitals and 15 Family Health Centers in Northeast Ohio, Cleveland Clinic Florida, the Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health in Las Vegas, Cleveland Clinic Canada, and opening in 2012, Cleveland Clinic Abu Dhabi. In 2009, there were more than 4.6 million visits throughout the Cleveland Clinic health system and 170,000 hospital admissions. Patients came for treatment from every state and from more than 100 countries. Visit us at www.clevelandclinic.org.

About The MetroHealth System

The MetroHealth System is a comprehensive academic health care system which serves as the safety net public hospital for Northeast Ohio. MetroHealth has a nationally-renowned Level I trauma and burn center and an acclaimed critical-care transport program – Metro Life Flight. MetroHealth’s network of community health centers incorporates a patient-centered medical home team care approach to optimize patient outcomes through chronic disease management. MetroHealth is in the top 4% of hospitals in the U.S. to achieve Magnet® recognition for a second time. Magnet® is the nation’s highest honor for nursing excellence. Founded in 1837, MetroHealth has been a major affiliate of Case Western Reserve University since 1914 and all MetroHealth active physician staff hold faculty appointments at Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine. Each year, MetroHealth provides nearly one million inpatient and outpatient visits – with overall revenue of $700 million. MetroHealth is one of Cleveland's largest employers with more than 6,100 employees. For more information on The MetroHealth System, visit www.metrohealth.org.

Media Contacts:

Erinne Dyer, 216.312.9252, dyere@ccf.org
Tracy Wheeler, 216.444.4235, wheelet2@ccf.org