Dayton CHIN links docs, hospitals, insurers

Insurance, referral information transferred

More than 1,000 doctors’ offices in 20 health care facilities (including seven hospitals) and an insurance company in greater Dayton, OH, are linked through a computer network that, in essence, is the region’s medical Internet.

Today, the Dayton Community Health Information Network (CHIN) consists of two main networks. The Patient Health Information Network (PHIN) links the emergency and medical records departments of the seven major hospitals in town. The Greater Dayton Area Health Information Network, also called the Integrated Health Information Network (IHIN), forms a triangular linkage among doctors’ offices, hospital patient records, and insurance companies.

The IHIN forms a desktop computer link with physician offices, hospital records, and Blue Cross/Blue Shield. Information being transferred includes medical records, insurance coverage and claims information, and physician referrals. It also has Internet access and e-mail functions.

This network began in 1993, about the same time integration and managed care started to become a force in the Dayton area. Not surprisingly, the two have evolved together, says Joseph Krella, MPA, president of the Greater Dayton Area Hospital Association and the Greater Dayton Area Health Information Network. "Clearly a project like this helps make our managed care efforts all that much more efficient," he says. "By increasing quality and increasing efficiency, obviously we will help our member institutions succeed in a managed care environment."

At present, Blue Cross/Blue Shield is the only insurance company wired into the network. The major use is to check insurance eligibility — which is done with a few keystrokes rather than having staff call the insurer — and to submit claims.

Success of this pilot project has attracted the attention of other insurers in the area. "Now that we have the infrastructure in place and have demonstrated that it is working successfully, I think that other payers will come on board," Krella predicts. "Our plan is to expand it to Medicaid and Medicare and other significant payers in the region. It’s a savings for them just as much as it is for us."