OFEK Virtual Medical Records: An Evaluation of an Integrated Hospital-Community Online Medical Information System

The more sophisticated that medical technology and treatment become, the greater the need for information to be shared among the various treatment settings. Since 2005, Clalit Health Services has been working with OFEK – an on-line information system containing computerized medical records that integrate information across hospital and community settings. The implementation of an integrated information system such as OFEK is a way to address the demand to improve quality of care and the need to contain costs. Such a system could reduce medical errors and repeat testing, and improve communication between hospital and community physicians, thereby streamlining treatment and enhancing quality.

The integration of computerized medical records from different medical services stimulates great interest, not only in Israel, but also worldwide. However, little has been reported in the literature on the implementation and impact of these systems.

This study examined whether the introduction of the integrated virtual medical system at Clalit had indeed contributed to the achievement of the health plan’s goals. To do so, it examined the extent to which OFEK was utilized, as well as its impact on reducing the consumption of medical services, and improving the quality of care. These effects were examined in regard to patients both at primary care clinics in the community and in internal medicine, general surgery and emergency departments at hospitals. The study also examined the extent to which the outcomes are influenced by the intensity of OFEK utilization. To examine these outcomes, they were compared to a control group of facilities that were not exposed to OFEK.

The study highlights the importance of the efforts to ensure the utilization of these systems once they have been established and shows that the utilization grew exponentially with time. The study found improvements in several important measures, compared to the control group. There is an expectation that the impact will grow as utilization increases.

The study serves as a basis for decisions regarding the development of this type of system at Clalit and other Israeli health plans and in Israel’s national medical records project. In light of the scarcity of efforts to evaluate such systems, the study also contributes to the development of the methodology for assessing the implementation and the contribution.

The study was funded with the assistance of a research grant from the Israel National Institute for Health Policy and Health Services Research.

Citations in the professional and academic literature

Politi, L., Codish, S., Sagy, I., & Fink, L. (2014). Use patterns of health information exchange through a multidimensional lens: Conceptual framework and empirical validation. Journal of biomedical informatics52, 212-221.

Liran, P., Shlomi, C., Iftach, S., & Lior, F. (2014). USAGE PATTERNS OF HEALTH INFORMATION EXCHANGE: ANTECEDENTS AND CONSEQUENCES.