In The Know

etHIN Participates in National Launch of SHIEC’s Patient Centered Data Home Initiative

PCDH Launch Lays Foundation for HIEs to Support Better Patient Care by Making It Possible to Deliver Patient Medical Record Alerts Across the Country

East Tennessee Health Information Network (etHIN) recently announced its participation in the official launch of the nationwide Patient Centered Data Home (PCDH) initiative. PCDH is coordinated by the health information exchange (HIE) members of the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC), a national collaborative representing health information exchanges (HIEs). Today’s launch signals that HIEs throughout the country are now able to share data with each other to support mobile patient populations.

etHIN participates in the Heartland Project, one of three regional pilot projects created to prove the concept of inter-HIE information sharing and alerting. Based on the success of those regional implementations, the 17 participating HIEs have agreed to a common, national agreement that connects the regional pilots and sets the stage for rolling out a full-scale, national PCHD program.

“etHIN realized the benefits of PCDH from the outset,” said etHIN Executive Director Leigh Sterling. “Through PCDH, not only do we receive data for patients living in this area who are treated elsewhere while traveling, we are now able to notify other HIEs when their patients are treated here. etHIN’s region contains the most visited national park in the country. Because visitors to our area often seek medical attention while they are here, we have medical data on patients living in all 50 states.  PCDH is the best way to provide needed information to our local treating providers and to keep the patient’s hometown physicians informed of out-of-town treatment events.”

What is PCDH?

At its core, PCDH is an inter-HIE alerting system. Because patients travel, it is common for a person to be treated by a doctor or clinic a distance from where they live. Frequently the “away” treatment facility is not a part of the same HIE that the patient’s doctors at home participate in. As a result, when the patient travels, there is a higher risk that the clinician treating them will not have access to the patient’s full medical records to support diagnoses and treatment plans.

To more quickly alert the treating physician that there are medical records they should access from the patient’s doctors at home, and to provide a location for those records to query, HIEs worked together to create the technical ability for HIEs to automatically trigger each other regarding the existence of a patient’s medical records.

The mechanism that makes this work is very straightforward. When a patient presents at a medical facility away from home, that facility will generate an Admit, Discharge Transfer (ADT) message. This message includes demographics about the patient; information such as the patient’s name, the patient’s location in the hospital, his or her address, phone number, gender, etc. By including ZIP Code information in the ADT, PCDH can automatically detect when a patient is being treated within a ZIP code outside of their normal home area.

When this happens, the “away” HIE will alert the HIE in the patient’s home area, and that home HIE, known as the patient’s “data home”, will automatically let the treating HIE know they have records for the patient so the treating HIE can alert the patient’s primary provider(s) and generate a query to access those records. Once the treatment encounter concludes, PCDH also makes it possible for the “away” HIE to alert the patient’s home HIE that there are new records for their patient that the home HIE can access.

About East Tennessee Health Information Network (etHIN)

etHIN is a non-profit, joint community initiative established in 2005 to serve the needs of patients and healthcare providers in East Tennessee. etHIN’s manages a secure healthcare information network that is used by authorized healthcare providers, supports improving patient outcomes, and helps to potentially lower the cost of healthcare. etHIN’s community members include local hospital systems, physicians, and other community healthcare providers in a 20-county region who provide healthcare services to more than 2 million patients. For more information about etHIN, visit


SHIEC is the national collaborative of health information exchanges (HIEs) and strategic business and technology partners. As the unbiased data trustees in their communities, the 60 member HIE organizations manage and provide for the secure digital exchange of data by medical, behavioral, and social service providers to improve the health of the communities they serve. Collectively, SHIEC members serve almost 75 percent of the U.S. population. For more information about SHIEC, visit and follow us on Twitter at @SHIEClive.

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