Philadelphia Business Journal - January 5, 2007
by John George
Six years ago, Dr. Elliot Menschik launched a research project to determine if it was possible to electronically connect competing hospitals so they could share patient data.
He believed a lot of money was wasted duplicating diagnostic tests because hospitals didn't have access to recent X-rays, MRIs and CT scans conducted at rival medical centers.
Menschik founded Hx Technologies in Center City to create a data-sharing entity - the Philadelphia Health Information Exchange - using $2.3 million in grants secured from the National Institutes of Health.
Last month the company disclosed the results of a study involving just two rival Philadelphia healthcare providers. The study found more than $200,000 was spent on duplicate tests over a 20-month period.
The exchange, which electronically links unaffiliated healthcare facilities, encompasses five Philadelphia hospitals and eight freestanding imaging centers in Philadelphia.
Initially, the system was tested among clinicians within the University of Pennsylvania Health System's three hospitals and the affiliated Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. During the past year, Thomas Jefferson University Hospital joined the exchange as part of the research study.
Menschik said the company's goal is to double the size of the network this year.
Hx is also evolving from its research phase to a commercialization model.
It has entered into business deals with five health plans outside the region that will pay fees so providers in their networks will have access to the data sharing technology. The company is also in discussions with Philadelphia-area health insurers.
"We had to ask ourselves 'who is the customer for this service,'" Menschik said. "It would seem it could be the patient of the physician, but it's really the health plans. They have a strong motivation to improve the quality of care they deliver to their members. There's also been a nagging suspicion that duplication of testing is a large cost area."
Last month, the company presented the results of a 20-month study involving longtime rivals Thomas Jefferson University Hospital and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.
Hx researchers found 6.2 percent of the Penn patients and 14.5 percent of the Jefferson patients - a total of about 20,000 patients - sought care at the other institution's facilities.