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Three Front Range Providers Link Patient Records

January 14, 2010
Three Front Range health care providers link patient records by: view profile ▪ view other postings from Jennifer Wills Article Contributed on: 11/24/2009 3:34:14 PM When Matthew Wright recently checked in to The Children's Hospital North Campus with pneumonia, the doctor treating the 17-month-old knew almost immediately what type of medicine and tests Matthew was given even though the he was last seen by a Kaiser Permanente doctor. The exchange of health records for millions of patients including Matthew is happening across the Front Range in Colorado. The Children's Hospital, Kaiser and Exempla Healthcare are on the same interconnected patient record exchange program. "The Monday after the emergency room visit, we were back in the Kaiser pediatrician's office, and our pediatrician had all the notations and test results from our weekend visit to Children's," said Marie Wright, Matthew's mother. "Because of shared medical records, our pediatrician knows exactly what's going on with Matthew and is able to follow up with us every couple of days." The collaboration between three of the largest regional health care organizations is an unprecedented leap forward in health care reform as part of a program to improve care for more than a million Coloradans, says Dr. David Kaplan, chief medical information officer at The Children's Hospital. Being able to see and share this information will enhance the quality and continuity of care for patients, as doctors share vital patient medical information through secure, encrypted Internet connections. As a result, health information exchanges such as this one will allow doctors to more efficiently and accurately diagnose patients and recommend treatments. "We no longer have to listen to voice-mail messages or try to decipher unclear faxes," said Dr. Kaplan. "Doctors now have instant access to a patient's up-to-date health records, which saves time and reduces errors." The partnership is a pioneering example of three independent health care organizations sharing patient health records electronically, and is a concrete example of how health care reform is taking place in Colorado. All records are up-to-date and changes are logged in real time, helping the quality of patient care, no matter where and by whom they are seen, according to Dr. Robert Miller, of Kaiser Permanente in Denver. Less than 2 percent of health care facilities nationally are using electronic health records, and only a handful are exchanging health information in this integrated manner -- highlighting the uniqueness of the relationship between the three providers. "The Obama administration has made it very clear that improving the nation's health care system hinges partly on modernizing our industry with electronic health records, and then encouraging these systems to become more connected," said Dr. Miller. "As a pediatrician, I've seen the benefits of health-IT exchange first-hand. With quicker access to more information, I can now diagnose, treat and care for the children in my practice with even greater confidence and improved results." The three providers are in the process of an extended pilot program to test the system, and officially went online with the CareEverywhere electronic health care record software system this month. The program is integrated through technology provider EPIC and their CareEverywhere system. "Traditionally, getting medical records from other organizations has been time consuming and inconvenient to the degree that clinicians are often forced to make decisions without complete information," said Joe Heaton, vice president and chief medical information officer at Exempla Healthcare. "The systems we have put in place now allow for faster and more efficient access to clinical information, which ensures that our patients have uninterrupted continuity of care between the doctor's office and the hospital."