Dayton health network learning from mistakes

The Greater Dayton (OH) Area Health Information Network (GDAHIN) was established in 1998, but local EDs have not been benefitting from the network for the entire 10 years; in fact, it was turned off in 2003.

"There are a few different reasons," says Lisa Rindler, director of web programs for the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association, who was in on the ground floor at GDAHIN. About eight hospitals were connected, she says. "I would say to my knowledge, the end of the network was due to one hospital's decision to use their own technology to provide their physicians with patient information," she says. "As one fell off, the others decide to go their own routes, too."

One of the key reasons, she believes, is that the network was using a web-based technology at the time. James J. Augustine, MD, FACEP, director of clinical operations at Emergency Medicine Physicians, an emergency physician partnership group based in Canton, OH, and an ED physician in Dayton at that time, says the network broke down due to concerns over patient privacy and data sharing. Hospital attorneys "felt it was in contradiction with the perceived mandates of HIPAA [the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act]," he says. The providers "loved it, because it improved the emergency care of the sickest patients," he says.

Rindler says, "I'm not sure if we were ahead of the game or behind the game." Any complaints, she adds, were on the hospital end, not the user end. "We had 2,100 users, and they liked it," she says.

And why not? When the network was up and running, says Rindler, ED staff could pull test reports and charge summaries and lab reports, as long as they had access to the other hospital's system. "If you had access to multiple facilities, you could check in all of them," she adds.

Rindler says the network is preparing for a comeback. "Uninsured patients and patient testing duplications from one ED to the next have been put in the spotlight, and now there is a big hospital push to do it," she says.