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AOAExcel™ XNetwork to offer health information connectivity for ODs

October 17, 2012

The AOAExcel™ XNetwork is scheduled to begin offering health information technology (HIT) networking, connectivity and secure patient communications services for optometric practices during the first quarter of 2013, according to Joe Ellis, O.D., AOAExcel™ chair and past president of the AOA.

The XNetwork services are being developed in conjunction with AT&T as part of the telecommunication giant’s Healthcare Community Online (HCO) program. AT&T already offers similar services for medical doctors and hospitals.

The XNetwork will offer Direct Messaging Project interoperability networking services, meeting standards for interoperability set by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS). It will be available to any AOA member optometrist in the United States, according to Ian Lane, O.D. AOAExcel chief medical information officer.

“The XNetwork is not an EHR software program but rather a network that can be used to connect the EHR in an optometrist’s office with EHRs in other health care practices or facilities and thereby allow for the exchange of patient information among them,” Dr. Lane said.

The XNetwork can be utilized with virtually any commonly available EHR software program, he added.

The XNetwork EHR connectivity and patient messaging services will be specifically designed to assist in meeting Stage 2 Meaningful Use standards established for the Medicare and Medicaid EHR incentive programs, Dr. Lane emphasized.

“It will effectively ensure that optometrists who wish to meet Stage 2 standards and thereby qualify for federal incentive bonuses will be able to have the required connectivity,” Dr. Ellis said.

While the XNetwork is being developed largely to ensure interoperability and connectivity for practitioners who are not members of health information exchanges (HIE) – or who may not have access to HIE services by the time Stage 2 compliance is required under federal incentive programs in 2014, Dr. Ellis believes even many practitioners with HIE affiliation will subscribe to the XNetwork to ensure connectivity with health care practitioners and institutions that cannot be accessed through their HIEs.

The network will provide “broad community connectivity” to physicians, hospitals and their ancillaries, pharmacies, payers, benefit managers, optical labs, medical labs, imaging and radiology services, employer human resource departments, home care providers, and patients themselves, Dr. Lane said.

The networking and patient messaging systems provide for entry of all the information required for the HHS standard patient data set.

The cloud-based system is designed to require “low or zero” technical support in the practice, Dr. Lane said.

For additional information, see the “toolkit” section on the AOAExcel™ website at www.excelod.com.

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