Exchange leader says collaboration a must

The establishment of a communitywide patient information sharing system by the Wisconsin Health Information Exchange (WHIE) was a collaborative effort from the start, says Kim Pemble, WHIE's executive director.

"We certainly tried to look at other implementations and learn from their experiences, but we did not necessarily model any particular one," he notes.

The most critical thing his organization learned was the importance of building stakeholders, Pemble says. "A collaborative approach involving clinicians, hospital executives, and hospital associations needs to occur first," he says. "For us, that came out of a membership-based exchange of over 50 members and a 21-seat advisory board."

So far, 13 hospitals — including five EDs — have joined the network. "In 2009, we expect to have the balance of the EDs on the network, and we are looking to expand into other counties of southeast Wisconsin," Pemble says.

The feedback he is getting from participants is positive, Pemble continues. "Clinicians are already telling me they see benefits," he says. "Because they are able to see the history, they are reducing unnecessary, redundant testing, and they are starting to establish a medical 'home' [primary care physician] referral process because they have an understanding of the patient's history."