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Highmark Selects Verizon to Help Develop First Statewide Health Information Exchange to Improve Patient Care Through Sharing of Information

Mon, 02/20/2012 - 7:45pm
The Associated Press

Patients accessing health care services across Pennsylvania will soon benefit from fewer duplicative diagnostic tests, faster retrieval of clinical information, stronger safety measures and better coordination of care - all via a new IT platform that enables the sharing of patient information across multiple health care systems.

Highmark Inc. on Tuesday (Feb. 21) announced an agreement under which Verizon Enterprise Solutions will deploy and manage the technology infrastructure for Highmark's new health information exchange that will soon link health care organizations across western Pennsylvania that serve millions of people. Highmark also plans to extend its HIE across the state over the next two years.

The first health care organization to join the Highmark project is West Penn Allegheny Health System consisting of Allegheny General Hospital, Allegheny Valley Hospital, Canonsburg General Hospital, Forbes Regional Hospital and Western Pennsylvania Hospital. Other health care organizations intending to participate in the Highmark HIE are: Butler Health System; Jefferson Regional Medical Center; MedExpress Urgent Care; Vantage Health Network (Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine, Meadville Medical Center, Millcreek Community Hospital, Saint Vincent Hospital); and The Washington Hospital.

Highmark is also in discussions with other health care organizations across Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

"We welcome all hospitals, physicians and health insurers to become part of our HIE," said Deborah L. Rice, Highmark's executive vice president of health services. "At the very core of this HIE is improved patient care, and that's the foundation of what our customers want from us and their care providers. It's about working collaboratively as a health care community and using the available health care data to provide the best possible care." As the push to transform health care through technology takes hold, health information exchanges are gaining acceptance. Health care organizations of all sizes and types are using HIEs to overcome the long-standing obstacle of incompatible health IT platforms and software used to store patient data. By facilitating the secure and compliant retrieval and sharing of patient clinical data among participating hospitals, clinics, physician practices and health care plans, the technology helps enable the quality, safety and efficiency of patient care.

"Health information exchanges address many of the interoperability, security and compliance issues that have long impeded the sharing of digital clinical information across the health care ecosystem," said Dr. Peter Tippett, vice president and chief medical officer, Verizon Connected Healthcare Solutions, the company's health IT practice group. "The work we are doing with Highmark underscores the potential health IT has to drive the development of patient-centered care models by unlocking the value of clinical information that's accessible across communities, regions and health care providers." The Highmark HIE will be powered by the Verizon Health Information Exchange, an interoperable health IT platform delivered via Verizon's cloud-computing infrastructure. The platform consolidates patient clinical data from disparate providers and translates the information into a standardized format for secure access over the Web, offering health care professionals an effective way to obtain a more complete view of a patient's health history. The platform uses strong identity-access-management controls to provide security for sensitive patient information and enables members to retain their existing systems, processes and workflows, thereby reducing the need for additional capital expenditures.

Highmark also has leveraged the expertise of Accenture, a global leader in management consulting and technology services, to assist health care providers with connecting to Highmark's HIE, which has been in development for the past 18 months.

About Highmark Inc.

Highmark Inc., based in Pittsburgh, is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield plans. Highmark serves 4.8 million members in Pennsylvania and West Virginia through the company's health care benefits business and is one of the largest Blue plans in the nation.

Highmark has 19,500 employees across the country. For more than 70 years, Highmark's commitment to the community has consistently been among the company's highest priorities as it strives to positively impact the communities where we do business. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

Highmark Inc. is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans. For more information, visit www.highmark.com .

About Verizon Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE, Nasdaq: VZ), headquartered in New York, is a global leader in delivering broadband and other wireless and wireline communications services to consumer, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, with nearly 109 million total connections nationwide. Verizon also provides converged communications, information and entertainment services over America's most advanced fiber-optic network, and delivers integrated business solutions to customers in more than 150 countries, including all of the Fortune 500. A Dow 30 company with $111 billion in 2011 revenues, Verizon employs a diverse workforce of nearly 194,000. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.

VERIZON'S ONLINE NEWS CENTER: Verizon news releases, executive speeches and biographies, media contacts, high-quality video and images, and other information are available at Verizon's News Center on the World Wide Web at www.verizon.com/news. To receive news releases by email, visit the News Center and register for customized automatic delivery of Verizon news releases.

SOURCE Verizon -0- 02/21/2012 /CONTACT: Kevin W. Irland, Verizon, +1-703-886-1117, kevin.w.irland@verizon.com; or Aaron Billger, Highmark Inc., +1-412-544-7826, aaron.billger@highmark.com /Web Site: http://www.verizon.com (NYSE:VZ) / CO: Verizon; Verizon Communications Inc.; Highmark Inc.; Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association; Verizon Enterprise Solutions ST: New York Pennsylvania IN: HEA NET STW TLS TCS WIC CPR HIN SU: CON PRN -- NY56507 -- 0000 02/21/2012 05:02:00 EDT http://www.prnewswire.c

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