Connectivity, coordination and collaboration are all vital to survival in today’s value-based healthcare environment. At Atlantic Health System, we’ve taken a forward-looking approach to achieving these goals. Over the years we’ve worked to integrate information technology (IT) into the practice of care both inside and outside our health system walls. Not only do we use the most current technology available in the most effective way for our organization, but we also are always preparing to take advantage of future advances in health IT.

This proactive approach has served us well. As all providers prepare to enter the “new normal” of fewer procedures and lower reimbursements, we believe Atlantic Health is ahead of the curve. We’ve identified changes on the healthcare horizon, and leveraged health information exchange (HIE) and analytics to create a connected community to address the new paradigm of accountable care.

HIE and data analytics are like a peanut butter cup, while both are good separately, they are always better together. While HIE helps fill gaps in the clinical record, it gives you data without insight. Analytics help you aggregate, normalize, and provide context and insight to deliver the best patient care; but without data from a variety sources, you only get a partial view. Connected analytics is what really gets you value for the future by putting together the whole patient care picture.

Connectivity Promotes Robust Data Exchange

Our journey began more than five years ago, when we implemented RelayHealth solutions to connect our hospitals and affiliated physicians. The connectivity platform provides cloud-based access to laboratory and radiology results, tests, consult notes, discharge summaries and more. As adoption increased, we added non-affiliated physicians, and then reached out to other healthcare systems in central New Jersey to create a health information organization (HIO) called Jersey Health Connect (JHC).

The technology also supports us in teaming up with physicians in the community to solve patient care problems and promote best practice decisions. We use the connectivity to share data with emergency department and physician office-based electronic health records (EHRs), ensuring continuity across settings of care. Currently, through JHC, 1,925 employed and independent physicians using disparate EHRs can share clinical information that is aggregated and distributed through the connectivity platform for more than one million patients.

JHC offers robust data exchange that provides our decision-makers with a complete patient snapshot of shared data where and when they need it. Comprehensive information is available from a continually growing variety of providers. Access to exchanged data provides the treatment team with immediate access to the patient’s history – tests, medications, orders, etc. – without recreating it from scratch.

Interest has grown, and JHC now comprises more than 27 entities, including healthcare systems, long-term care organizations, large medical groups, home care and physician organizations.

Partnering with Patients for Better Health

This connective technology brings a powerful tool for our patients as well. Today, 70,000 of them use our online patient portal to manage their medical care electronically. With 24/7 access to health information, they can request appointments, check their lab results, order prescription refills and communicate with their doctors by email. Such direct engagement makes patients true partners in their care. It gives them the information they need to stay healthy and out of the hospital.

Decision Support Helps Boost Care Efficiencies

Health IT helps Atlantic Health coordinate care across our medical centers and ambulatory settings. Decision support tools include bedside nursing documentation, barcode-enabled medication administration, computerized provider order entry, advanced digital imaging for radiology, cardiology and pathology, as well as an electronic medical chart that saves physicians time in finding patient information.

From Provider to Partner

Leveraging technology to improve care efficiencies and coordination, expanding online connectivity to our region, and offering patients an interactive, portable health record has helped Atlantic Health deliver integrated care. Our success comes from focusing on cooperation rather than competition.

This collaborative commitment was further bolstered by our recent selection to participate in the Medicare Shared Savings Program, which offers financial incentives for physicians, hospitals and others to team up in accountable care organizations. We’re able to extract the data from our enterprise systems to assign provider gain sharing based on a patient’s outcomes and care in our system. It is emblematic of our approach to healthcare delivery – an approach that transforms us from provider to partner as we coordinate medical care, engage patients in their own wellness, improve health and control costs.

Atlantic Health has been named one of the nation’s “Most Wired” organizations four consecutive years by the American Hospital Association’s Hospitals & Health Networks® magazine, including 2013.

Atlantic Health Connects with the Community and Regional Providers

Atlantic Health’s connected community is large and growing:

  • 27 member hospitals and health systems are now part of the health information exchange Jersey Health Connect.
  • 70,000 patients use the RelayHealth online portal to manage their medical care.
  • More than 1,900 community physicians share data on one million patients via integrated electronic health records and connectivity tools.
Linda A Reed

About the author

Linda A. Reed, RN, MBA, FCHIME, is vice president of Behavioral and Integrative Medicine and chief information officer of Atlantic Health. She is responsible for planning, acquiring and implementing information technology and telecommunications. Under her leadership, in addition to its 100 Most Wired honors, Atlantic Health was named one of the top 250 innovative business technology organizations in the country four years running by InformationWeek magazine. The health system was ranked 49 in Fortune’s annual Best Companies to Work For® in 2013 and routinely appears on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” list.