East Hawai‘i Region of State Hospital System Takes Steps to Improve Coordination of Patient Care through Partnership with the Hawai‘i Health Information Exchange

Honolulu, Hawai‘i – With a relatively small pool of specialists on Hawai‘i Island, access to quality specialty care has been an ongoing challenge for Hawai‘i Island residents. Yet, even when these residents travel to Oahu or Maui to see a specialist, there can be no guarantee their current health records are readily available, making a diagnosis dificult without ordering a new set of tests. This translates into wasted time and money, and delayed treatment.

All of this will soon change, thanks to the foresight of the leaders of the East Hawai‘i Region of the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation (HHSC), which includes three major hopsitals: Hilo Medical Center, Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua and Ka‘u Hospital.

The East Hawai‘i Region of HHSC recently signed a "data sharing agreement" with the Hawai‘i Health Information Exchange (Hawai‘i HIE). The agreement is the first step toward improving access to quality care for an estimated 10,000 patients in the East Hawai‘i region. Hawai‘i HIE has been designated by the State of Hawai‘i to develop a secure electronic system to share selected patient information among healthcare providers to improve care and reduce healthcare costs.

"This reduces another barrier to quality care for East Hawai‘i families," said Christine Sakuda, Hawai‘i HIE’s executive director. "As more providers sign on to the Hawai‘i Health information Exchange, the quality of patient care will correspondingly increase."

"Coordination and continuity of care are critical components to achieving positive health outcomes," said Howard Ainsley, East Hawai‘i Region CEO of HHSC. "Our partnership with the Hawai‘i Health Information Exchange will greatly enhance the collaboration among our 250 providers throughout the Hamakua Coast, Hilo and South Point and with specialists on Oahu or Maui."

The three East Hawai‘i hospitals are joining with other major hospital systems that are already connected to Hawai‘i HIE’s encrypted system. The other hospital systems include Castle Medical Center, Hawai‘i Pacific Health, which consists of Kapi‘olani Medical Center for Women and Children, Pali Momi, Straub Clinic & Hospital and Wilcox Memorial Hospital. Altogether, the participating hospitals account for one third of the licensed hospital beds in the state.

After conducting rigorous testing and re-testing, physicians and other healthcare professionals within the East Hawai‘i region will be able to electronically share selected health information with their colleagues and with other providers in the state who have signed data sharing agreements. Through a service called Health eNet, a service of Hawai‘i HIE, authorized participating providers will be able to send queries to gain access to information such as a patient’s medical history, lab results or prescription medications to make sound clinical decisions when developing a plan of care or treating patients.


About Hawai‘i Health Information Exchange The Hawai‘i HIE is a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization established in 2006 to provide better coordination of care for patients, to improve health outcomes and to reduce the cost of care for patients and healthcare providers. In September 2009, Hawai‘i HIE was designated by the state to develop a seamless, effective, and secure statewide health information exchange that ultimately links to the nationwide health information network. For more information about Hawai‘i HIE, visit www.hawaiihie.org.  

About East Hawai‘i Region of HHSC
As the Big Island’s leading providers of inpatient and outpatient care, the East Hawai‘i Region of Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation (HHSC), consisting of Hilo Medical Center, Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua and Ka‘u Hospital, delivers a full range of services and programs. Our three hospitals in the region include 375 beds and over 1,200 employees and more than 250 physicians, representing 33 specialties. The region has a network of 11 outpatient clinics offering primary and specialty care. Hilo Medical Center functions as a Level III Trauma Center, which includes the second busiest emergency room in the state, providing 24-hour care and serving more than 42,000 patients annually. Hale Ho‘ola Hamakua and Ka‘u Hospital is designated as Critical Access Hospitals.

The East Hawai‘i Region facilities have all implemented the MEDITECH 6.X EMR System beginning in May 2010. In 2013, all facilities attained the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) Meaningful Use Stage 1. In addition, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) recognized the region for achieving Stage 7 on the EMR Adoption ModelSM. The East Hawai‘i Region is part of the Hawai‘i Health Systems Corporation, a public entity established in 1996 by the State of Hawai‘i to fulfill the promise to provide quality, hometown healthcare. For more information, go to: www.hilomedicalcenter.org.  

Nathan Hokama
Strategic Communication Solutions
(808) 226-7470

Holly Iwasaki
Hawai‘i Health Information Exchange
(808) 441-1317