The V.I. Health Information Network, which enables local health care providers to quickly and securely access and exchange health care data, launches this week, according to the Health Department.
The territory’s first health information exchange network is now coming fully online after a pilot program launched last June. (See related links below)
“The launch of the Virgin Islands health information exchange – which should not be confused with a health insurance exchange – will literally transform the health care system, bringing us closer to our goals of a healthy Virgin Islands through enhanced communication and coordination of care to best serve residents in terms of better quality, better outcomes, better cost-effectiveness and ultimately better health status,” Health Commissioner Darice Plaskett said in a statement.
Several health care providers have already registered for the network, according to the department. It provides a secure electronic network that enables healthcare providers – hospitals, health centers, clinics, pharmacies, labs and other medical professionals – to exchange health information for consultations, referrals, sharing and reporting.
VIHIN is spearheaded by the Health Information Technology Division of the Department of Health and Secure Exchange Solutions, a certified health information service provider that is providing the Direct Exchange Solution, a national standard for the secure exchange of health care information.
According to Dan Kazzaz, CEO of Secure Exchange Solutions, “with Direct, Virgin Islands providers can now exchange health care information faster, optimize both transitions of care and referrals, and lower operating costs.”
The Office of National Coordinators, a part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, awarded $1 million to help with the exchange.
In a statement, Gov. John deJongh Jr. said he was excited and pleased at the progress.
"These projects, along with the broadband initiative currently under way to provide robust, high-speed internet access capability across the territory, will help us establish a world-class health information environment in the U.S. Virgin Islands to the benefit of the entire territory," deJongh said.
A territory level health information exchanges is a step towards a nationwide private electronic health information system. Giving V.I. health care providers the ability to exchange health records electronically will help modernize our health care system, improve its efficiency, and improve the quality of care for everyone, deJongh said.
Several open houses are scheduled for the community to become familiar with the new exchange, beginning Thursday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Schneider Regional Medical Center’s second floor conference room; and on Friday from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Charles Harwood Clinic first floor training room on St. Croix.
For more information about VIHIN, visit the Health Department’s website at www.healthvi.org/hie, where there are webinars posted on the Direct technology and how to sign up to participate in the Exchange.