Northern Virginia Regional Health Information Organization Inc. Launches Innovative Medication History Service

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - June 22nd, 2011- In an emergency department (ED), where patients’ health and safety hang in the balance, every second counts. Now, Inova Alexandria Hospital ED clinicians can quickly access a patient’s prescriptions information, no matter where in the U.S. they were...

Northern Virginia Regional Health Information Organization Inc. Launches Innovative Medication History Service

ALEXANDRIA, Va. - June 22nd, 2011- In an emergency department (ED), where patients’ health and safety hang in the balance, every second counts. Now, Inova Alexandria Hospital ED clinicians can quickly access a patient’s prescriptions information, no matter where in the U.S. they were written, enhancing care quality and safety.

The April medication history service launch in this busy Washington, D.C. suburb ED marks the first project milestone for the Northern Virginia Regional Health Information Organization (NoVaRHIO). This new service helps providers working with patients in the ED to retrieve and access patient prescription medication information from data sources across the United States.
Until now, achieving multi system (semantic) interoperability using data from disparate sources and seamless workflow integration into an electronic health record (EHR) was not possible. This provides a foundation for extending to a full information exchange through the use of Continuity of Care Documents (CCD) and is a step toward “Meaningful Use” of electronic health records (EHRs) and health information technology as defined by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

“The NoVaRHIO medication history project has added a new dimension to the care of our patients in the emergency department. The system enables comprehensive medication lists to flow directly into our electronic health record, resulting in faster and more focused emergency treatment by helping physicians avoid drug interactions and duplication. This system has helped to greatly enhance the safety of medication use for our patients in the emergency department,” said Dr. Martin Brown, M.D., FACEP, Chairman, Department of Emergency Medicine, Inova Alexandria Hospital.

As one example of the power of the new technology, a young girl recently came to the ED with her parents. During the review of the medication, a process called “medication reconciliation”, the parents mentioned some of the medications she was currently taking. However, this new service revealed that the child was on strong daily antibiotics for the past six months. Due to identification of this previously unmentioned information, the treating providers were able to better pinpoint the root cause of the girl’s symptoms and make an appropriate recommendation for treatment.
During the initial weeks of service operation, close to 90 percent of patients seen in the ED at Inova Alexandria Hospital consented to having their medication history accessed electronically by the medical staff, demonstrating confidence and a growing recognition of the value of health information exchange (HIE). By year end, NoVaRHIO estimates that more than 20,000 patients will have benefited from this technology. Ensuring that treating providers have a current and accurate medication list for each patient is not only part of the standard of care, but it also helps reduce adverse drug interactions and duplicate prescriptions. For patients who are elderly, incapacitated at the time of admission, or taking multiple medications, the availability of this information can potentially improve their treatment.

NoVaRHIO consists of Northern Virginia hospitals, physicians, business leaders, local governments, health care providers, patient advocacy groups and universities including George Mason University and Northern Virginia Community College. NoVaRHIO is working with the Commonwealth to coordinate development of its health information exchange with statewide health information exchange initiatives. NoVaRHIO plans to build upon this initial milestone by extending the service to other hospitals and hospital systems, broadening the service to include laboratory and radiology results, allergy, and patient admissions/discharge information, and to offer additional services including physician access and patient personal health records.

This unique project, partially funded by the Commonwealth of Virginia, was the result of collaboration among a number of organizations. Inova Health System contributed substantial in-kind resources to enable this cutting-edge integration initiative. Inova offered its Alexandria ED as the initial pilot site, enhanced registration and clinical workflows, and provided clinical and technological subject matter expertise to optimize all aspects of the results delivery and use. GE Healthcare provided its eHealth Information Exchange as the health information exchange infrastructure along with connectivity to data sources, enhancing its flexible solution to meet Inova’s specific needs. Picis ED PulseCheckTM, the EHR vendor for Inova’s Alexandria ED, enhanced its product to allow for direct import of the medication results, using the latest standards (Integrating Healthcare Enterprise (IHE) profiles and CCD)), thereby greatly enhancing workflow and ease of use for clinicians. Audacious Inquiry, an innovative management and technology consulting firm, provided project management leadership to enable the complex integration project. NoVaRHIO provided executive leadership support and project guidance and led the coalition through the successful grant funding process.

“From its very beginning, this project has been an example of how disparate groups can work together for a common goal—better healthcare,” said Phil Reilly, Chairman of the Board of NoVaRHIO. “I am proud to support this model of teamwork and collective focus. The Northern Virginia region is indeed fortunate."

To learn more about NoVaRHIO’s health information exchange and this project, please join us for a webinar event on Wednesday, August 3rd at 1 pm ET. Click here to register

Established in 2007, NoVaRHIO works to facilitate the availability of accurate and timely electronic health records with the goal of improving the health status and healthcare of those who live and work in northern Virginia. Partnering with physicians, hospital systems, local governments, patient advocacy groups, free clinics and local businesses, NoVaRHIO has the dual goals of furthering the development of a regional health information exchange and facilitating the adoption and interoperability of personal health records. NoVaRHIO is an active participant in the Commonwealth of Virginia’s statewide health information exchange efforts and is part of the Virginia Health Information Technology Advisory Commission (HITAC). It is recognized as a Virginia 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.

Inova Health System is a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Northern Virginia that consists of hospitals and other health services, including emergency- and urgent-care centers, home care, nursing homes, mental health and blood donor services, and wellness classes. Governed by a voluntary board of community members, Inova’s mission is to improve the health of the diverse community it serves through excellence in patient care, education and research. Inova provides a healthy environment for its patients, families, visitors, staff and physicians by prohibiting tobacco use on its campuses.

GE Healthcare provides transformational medical technologies and services that are shaping a new age of patient care. Our broad expertise in medical imaging and information technologies, medical diagnostics, patient monitoring systems, drug discovery, biopharmaceutical manufacturing technologies, performance improvement and performance solutions services help our customers to deliver better care to more people around the world at a lower cost. In addition, we partner with healthcare leaders, striving to leverage the global policy change necessary to implement a successful shift to sustainable healthcare systems.

Our "healthymagination" vision for the future invites the world to join us on our journey as we continuously develop innovations focused on reducing costs, increasing access and improving quality and efficiency around the world. Headquartered in the United Kingdom, GE Healthcare is a $17 billion unit of General Electric Company (NYSE: GE). Worldwide, GE Healthcare employs more than 46,000 people committed to serving healthcare professionals and their patients in more than 100 countries. For more information about GE Healthcare, visit our website at

Audacious Inquiry is a management and technology consulting firm with domain expertise in health information systems, web application development and analytical services. The company works in partnership with client organizations, including healthcare provider organizations, businesses, non-profit associations, and government organizations to maximize positive outcomes and minimize the risks of the practical application of information technology. The company is based at bwtech@UMBC Research and Technology Park, in Catonsville, Maryland. To learn more about AI, please visit

Picis, an Ingenix company, now OptumInsight is a global provider of innovative solutions that enable rapid and sustained delivery of clinical documentation, financial and operational results in the emergency departments, surgical suites and intensive care units of more than 2,200 hospitals in 19 countries. For more information about Picis, visit