"CurrentCare is part of an innovative effort at Women & Infants Hospital that is designed to improve care to premature infants and better support parents and families."
By Harold Ambler Contributing Writer
Laura Adams is a nationally recognized leader in health information technology and has served as president and CEO of the Rhode Island Quality Institute since 2002. RIQI administers CurrentCare, the state’s health information exchange, a program that recently counted its 400,000th Rhode Islander participating. Health information exchanges are designed to limit readmissions, avoid medication errors, improve diagnoses, and decrease duplicate testing.
PBN: CurrentCare’s numbers have been increasing at a fast clip – can the program continue to grow at this rate?
ADAMS: We anticipate enrollment growing at even a faster pace. As providers move into new payment arrangements that reward value, not volume, they recognize the value of CurrentCare and encourage their patients to enroll at much higher rates. We’re also beginning to turn the power of CurrentCare towards people. We are building a secure website that will allow people to have electronic access to their own medical records and receive other valuable services. We think that will also encourage people to enroll, which they can do online at www.currentcareri.org.
PBN: Are there cases that you can share without names of patients being spared negative outcomes because of CurrentCare?
ADAMS: CurrentCare is part of an innovative effort at Women & Infants Hospital that is designed to improve care to premature infants and better support parents and families. Many of these families are taking home infants that have had multiple medical complications and will need to see many different providers for follow-up care. CurrentCare gives these families reassurance that providers can easily access and share the information they need to treat their child for both scheduled follow-up care and in an emergent situation. CurrentCare also alerts the Women & Infants family support teams anytime an enrolled infant that was born prematurely goes to the emergency room or is admitted to any hospital in Rhode Island. This enables the care teams to immediately respond to the needs of families, provide support and prevent avoidable readmissions to the hospital. Readmissions of infants in this program have decreased by 50 percent. We think it’s a great example of how CurrentCare can by levered to improve outcomes and reduce cost at the same time.
PBN: Why do health care providers like CurrentCare so much?
ADAMS: The federal Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT recently commissioned an independent survey to understand the value of CurrentCare for RI providers. Through this survey, we learned that providers think CurrentCare is easy to use, convenient, and makes care better coordinated, safer and more efficient. We have reached a critical mass of enrolled patients and data in the system. We’re at the point now where CurrentCare is becoming a new standard of care in the community because of the benefits it imparts to both patients and providers.
PBN: Who oversees CurrentCare; is it administered by RIQI? If not, where are the servers that maintain all the data, which entity’s IT people are in charge of it?
ADAMS: CurrentCare is a free service that was developed by the Rhode Island healthcare community to better coordinate and improve patient care. From an administrative perspective, RIQI owns and operates CurrentCare. RIQI staff is primarily responsible for overseeing and managing the system, but we also receive technical support from our software vendor, InterSystems Corporation, based in Cambridge, Mass., and from J2 Interactive, in Charlestown, Mass., for the development and maintenance of CurrentCare services. CurrentCare’s main servers are located in Boston, but we also have back-up servers in North Carolina.
PBN: When did CurrentCare start, and what have been the biggest changes to the program, apart from sheer size, since then?
ADAMS: CurrentCare began as a public-private partnership with the state in 2004. The state turned over the responsibility for operating CurrentCare to RIQI in June 2010, which coincided with RIQI receiving the “trifecta” of all three of the major health IT grants in the federal stimulus bill. Within eight months, the system started receiving data, and it has been advancing very rapidly since. The biggest change is realizing how valuable CurrentCare can be in the hands of patients. We are rapidly moving out of the era of “come and get it” care to a time when patients and their families are empowered to make their own health decisions and are recognized as active members of the care team. We are excited about the possibilities that CurrentCare can offer and have started learning how we can use this powerful system to help Rhode Islanders prevent disease, manage their health conditions, and lead healthy lives.