Cerner [NASDAQ: CERN]: Interoperability Breakthrough

Cerner [NASDAQ: CERN]: Interoperability Breakthrough

Neal Patterson, CEO, CernerNeal Patterson, CEO, Cerner As the wailing sirens continue on Route 110, a team of first responders find a severely injured man with faint pulse amidst the car wreckage. Wheeling him through the emergency department, the responders pass his license to the on-duty physician who retrieves his medical history with just a few taps on the smart device and views it on the EMR. The information was accessed from the Continuity of Care Document (CCD) residing in the HIE that comprises of medications and allergies, which, since the patient is unresponsive, can prove vital during treatment. The physician uses these details to manage tests, medications, and clinical documentation. This is just among the many cases showcasing the benefits of Cerner’s HIE-centered integrated platform that can give access to important patient and medical information in case of an emergency.

“It is immoral to put up barriers in the path of accessing medical information. Anyone who has been put in the position to manage their own health or carry around paper copies of records so that the next physician can try to understand care history, understands this,” asserts Chairman of the Board and CEO of Cerner, Neal Patterson, who is pushing information interoperability into the centre of healthcare continuum. Today, this scenario is changing with the widespread availability of secure electronic data transfer. HIE has greatly improved the completeness of patient records, making a big difference in providing effective care, and Cerner is at the forefront of this revolution through its vast network of expertise.

Imagine the caliber of care you can provide your patients with access to rich data made available from enterprise health records

Cerner HIE overcomes the pitfalls that come with having fractured and disparate health systems, enabling healthcare professionals–from doctors to nurses and pharmacists–to securely and rapidly access and update patient information electronically. It also allows organizations to accurately share patient data across connected sources through highly secure web-based interfaces.

The Cerner Network

The Cerner Network offers healthcare providers with the capability to query patient information from an interconnected health network that pulls data from external sources in real-time. The network is making it easy to progressively and safely exchange information with healthcare providers in the local community or statewide. “Imagine the caliber of care you can provide your patients, with access to rich data from enterprise health records, other acute and ambulatory care facilities, public and private health information exchanges and immunization registries,” explains Patterson.

The exchange of health information permits patients and physicians to access the accurate health data when and where it’s needed most, while under the protection of standard medical confidentiality and privacy procedures.

The Cerner Network encompasses multiple interoperability solutions that cover everything from Send (Cerner HUB), Collaborate (Direct messaging) and Discover (Cerner HIE). The Cerner Hub based solutions perform real-time, systematic pushes to notify the receiving system of important information. The Cerner Direct based solutions manage the back and forth exchange of ad hoc communication that is integrated in the clinician’s workflow. Lastly, Discover, the Cerner HIE solution pulls information from the community at the point of care, perform multiple queries that are on-demand query or query for CDA from EHR system to EHR system.

“Our technology can deploy each of these concepts in partial, in whole, or in combination with the other in order to meet our health partner’s unique connectivity goals,” explains Patterson. This allows healthcare organizations to build scalable, enterprise HIEs, allowing clinical information to be available from any care venue regardless of the EHR system. Cerner works closely with their customers to implement the right communication method according to their unique organizational needs; whether they are looking to build an enterprise HIE, connect to other HIEs, or simply join the Cerner Network to have consistent access to the right information.

Integrating Patient Care Devices

Cerner has some of the most innovative clients in healthcare, ranging from industry-leading accountable care organizations, to top academic research institutions, to critical access community hospitals providing quality rural care. Recently, the company has successfully connected Palmetto Health and the Georgia Regional Academic Community Health Information Exchange (GRAChIE) through Cerner’s health information exchange (HIE) solution. Palmetto Health, South Carolina’s largest integrated healthcare system, and GRAChIE, collaboration between Navicent Health and Augusta University Health, serve a combined population of over 2.2 million patients in South Carolina and Georgia. Cerner’s HIE solution provides physicians throughout the region access to patient electronic health records and the capability to exchange data, regardless of where care is being provided. The HIE solution underpins the exchange of data across organizational, technological and geographical boundaries.

Cerner’s applications are developed with physicians in mind so that they can concentrate on people, not technology. The providers can also administer their day-to-day revenue functions with Cerner’s integrated clinical and financial systems. “At Cerner, our role has always been to anticipate the future of healthcare, and innovating solutions to meet those needs. Now is the time to use all of our size and skill to accelerate progress for all of healthcare,” adds Patterson.

Cerner is also at the forefront of addressing the integration issues of various medical devices into the healthcare enterprise, from the point-of-care to EHR that enhances and offers significant improvements in clinical workflow, quality of care and patient safety. To help hospitals address the knowledge gap between medical devices and the EHR, Cerner has created the CareAware device interoperability architecture. At the core of the architecture is the CareAware ibus, which facilitates bidirectional flow of information between medical devices and the EHR.

This two-way communication helps healthcare organizations develop workflow efficiencies and preserve a single source of truth for patient data.

The Interoperability Movement

Cerner strives to move interoperability beyond the technicality of sharing information—enhancing the commitment to improve care quality at every point of connection and integration. The company is a part of an industry-wide alliance established to create a nation-wide infrastructure for information exchange. The CommonWell Health Alliance seeks to support a person’s role in his care as active stewards of their health and advocate for their own care. This independent not-for-profit trade association combines the health and IT expertise of its members to create a seamless data environment through common platforms in order to liberate health data from clinical and financial silos.

The alliance offers services to establish a common infrastructure that enables health document sharing. The architecture is based on centralized patient discovery and matching adjudication services. CommonWell also provides document query and retrieval services that incorporates brokered service acting against a federated network of document registries and repositories. The alliance uses technology built upon industry-adopted, open standards to enable data exchange and interoperability within this national network. With ever changing industry standards for data exchange, Cerner’s solutions ensure that their partners are compliant today and tomorrow.

The company understands that embracing interoperability and openness cannot simply be the adherence to standards. Competitors and industry partners have to come together and work towards a sole goal concerning improvement. It entails the industry to work for meaningful connectivity using the standards that are available, and involves proposing changes or creating new standards. This takes an immense commitment and the cooperation of every health entity to create a truly interoperable health system at large.

"As the healthcare landscape changes and improves, we continue to participate in committees and initiatives to develop additional open standards"

“As the healthcare landscape changes and improves, we continue to participate in committees and initiatives to develop additional open standards. We participate in policy and standards committees with Health IT ONC, HIMSS Electronic Health Record Association (EHRA), eHealth Initiative (eHI), and Blue Button+,” adds Patterson. Interoperability is a foundational element in the transformation of healthcare, which is why Cerner is taking the lead in delivering comprehensive connectivity solutions. Their interoperability investments and developments are also focused on providing robust and meaningful data to the people served by the healthcare industry. With access to their own complete health record, a person becomes more engaged in their care experience; and is more likely to comply with their provider’s recommended regimen, help their providers avoid duplicative tests or procedures, and effectively manage their own health.

Cerner owes its success to the vast network of caregivers and health systems connecting through their technology. The result is a longitudinal patient record that supports collaboration among providers and improves patient care while reducing costs. For the days to come Cerner plans to maintain its leadership position in defining the concepts of ‘open EMR’ and interoperability.

- Eileen Singh
    October 21, 2016