Last week the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that HCA was among a handful of healthcare providers that pledged to follow three principles—Consumer Access, Transparency and Standards—to improve the flow of health information to consumers and providers. At HCA, we agree with HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell that the commitment to these principles is essential to ensuring that health information can be accessed effectively by patients and caregivers for the best possible health and care.

To deliver better, more personalized care and to allow for the secure and efficient flow of health information, we commit to the following:

  1. Consumer Access: To help consumers easily and securely access their electronic health information, direct it to any desired location, learn how their information can be shared and used, and be assured that this information will be effectively and safely used to benefit their health and that of their community.
  2. Transparency: To help providers share individuals’ health information for care with other providers and their patients whenever permitted by law, and not block electronic health information (defined as knowingly and unreasonably interfering with information sharing).
  3. Standards: Implement federally recognized, national interoperability standards, policies, guidance, and practices for electronic health information and adopt best practices including those related to privacy and security.

We are well on our way of meeting those goals with the creation and soft launch of the online patient information system, MyHealthONE – a digital access point that provides consumers and patients with easy and secure access to electronic health information, while optimizing the patient care experience across digital, telephonic and face-to-face encounters. Our goal is to ensure pertinent information supports optimal patient care at every touchpoint in the care continuum and respects a person’s privacy and decisions.

In addition, HCA’s early adoption of the Federal standards required for the “meaningful use” of health information technology provides a progressively robust platform for a learning health system like ours to use “big data” for continuous quality improvement and scientific research.

A significant example of the use of standards-based health information was the REDUCE MRSA study conducted across 43 HCA-affiliated hospitals and published in the New England Journal of Medicine. In conjunction with the Centers for Disease Control, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, and academic partners (Harvard, Rush, UC/Irvine), a three-arm comparative effectiveness trial was conducted demonstrating that the “universal decolonization” of patients with an antiseptic sponge-bath and antibiotic nose-drops on admission to intensive care reduced not only MRSA by 37 percent, but on top of all known best practices, reduced all potentially life-threatening bloodstream infections by 44 percent.

HCA’s scale—168 hospitals and more than 20 million annual patient encounters—and robust IT systems provide us a unique opportunity as a learning health system to improve patient outcomes significantly and on a continual basis. Through the use of Health Information Technology, HCA is empowering healthcare consumers and improving the patient experience.

Visit here for more information on the health interoperability pledge.