Hospital part of data program
Henderson will be one of four sites in the nation to participate in the launch of a medical data exchange.
Maria Parham Medical Center announced recently it is joining with CommonWell Health Alliance in a nationwide effort to make medical information from patients’ visits to hospitals and doctors’ offices available regardless of location.
The other participating sites are in Elkin; Chicago, Ill., and Columbia, S.C.
Randy Williams, director of information technology for MPMC, explained patients often have different parts of their medical records located with different medical providers — with their family doctor, a specialist, a clinic, a hospital and perhaps more. Each provider has its own electronic record system, which may not be compatible with the others.
“Eight software providers came together to build a system to communicate with each other,” Williams said. “They are constructing a common data bank that providers can query.”
Patients will benefit when their health providers have a comprehensive picture of their health data when it is needed. By going to the data bank, a health care provider can get a complete picture of a patient’s health status and avoid duplicating tests or undertaking treatments that might negatively affect other aspects of the patient’s condition.
The system also addresses the issue of medical costs. By eliminating unnecessary testing and manual exchange of records, the medical data exchange will reduce the cost of diagnosis and treatment.
“We’re working to better integrate information from the outpatient setting to the inpatient setting,” CEO of MPMC Bob Singletary said. “We’re on a journey to move to electronic records so that we’re not a dependent on paper and pen-and-ink records.”
The Affordable Care Act has provisions that encourage hospitals and other health providers to move toward electronic record keeping, he said.
“It’s important for our citizens to know that their local hospital and local physicians are working together to make information available to each other,” he said.
Premier Women’s Health Professionals in Henderson and Oxford is participating in the project.
“It will allow us to have better access to a patient’s data between our office and Maria Parham or when a patient is travelling,” Dr. Weldon Hampton said.
This could include everything from a patient’s medications to previous treatments.
“Other electronic health vendors are looking at the system,” Hampton said. “As those people come on board, we’ll have access to them. In the long run, it’s going to be great.”
Williams thinks the risk of the system being hacked is minimal.
“We are using pretty strong technology to encrypt that data,” he said.
Patients will have the final say as to whether they want to participate in the program.
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