In the past, the HIS was regarded as the controlling element in patient administration. In the meantime, new conditions relating to cross-enterprise data exchange and information availability have been added to the standard requirements of a closed administration system. Many European countries issue unique national patient identifiers, which are used across facilities. This unified and sensible approach of issuing a unique lifetime ID to all citizens has found little support in Germany. Healthcare facilities are thus forced to find alternative means of effective identification that make communication via the central HIS feasible. Therefore, several manufacturers have developed solutions that offer this functionality.
But what is the added value of a master patient index? That it just issues a number? Definitely not! The software’s logic and algorithms should support the facility’s existing workflows, not hinder them. Complex structures and procedures within medical institutions need to be taken into account.
“THE PATH TO AN MPI REPRESENTS A STEP IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION FOR COMMUNICATION ACROSS MULTIPLE HEALTHCARE FACILITIES.”
At this point the user is forced to analyze, define, optimize, and above all to standardize their processes. The mission is to find an MPI vendor that can meet the above requirements for the structure to be implemented.
This is where ICW’s applications come into play. Several of our clients who use the Cloverleaf® communication server were, and still are, faced with the challenge of merging and harmonizing cross-facility processes and data from various systems with different identifiers. Cloverleaf® was an excellent solution for transferring information. But then comes the second hurdle to be overcome: How does the user get the structures used within the facility and beyond mapped out, and what tools will help them with this task without creating additional expense?
Various clients have chosen ICW’s solution because there are other added values that can be utilized in the future, such as a cross-facility patient record. A small project involving cross-facility communication of orders and reports was initiated at Düsseldorf University Hospital. New specifications were gradually added on, and now the solution’s full capabilities can also be employed in other use scenarios. The Freiburg Heart Center also used the MPI and the Cloverleaf® communication server to achieve optimal coordination of cross-facility systems and processes. The financial and quality benefits will exceed the investment costs over time, thus demonstrating that the buildout and the strategic decision to use an MPI were a wise course of action. With this approach, different systems and processes can be joined using a “best of breed” strategy. This also reduces vendor dependency and increases needs-based flexibility. The user in particular has the advantage of using their data according to their needs and wants, without having to think about complex structures and the time involved with harmonization processes—not to mention the additional costs that come with them.
To summarize, it can be said that the path to an MPI represents a step in the right direction for communication across multiple healthcare facilities. The MPI can have a positive effect on quality and patient care in the long run. The combination of a powerful communication server and an MPI that can be deployed in various use scenarios forms an excellent foundation for meeting the challenges of hospital eHealth projects. Health-Comm and ICW have partnered for many years to facilitate successful customer solutions with their products.