Health Care, Nonprofits, and Technology

Health information exchanges agree to share patient data

November 13, 2013
| By Pete Daly |
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A worker at Mercy Health Partners delivers medicine to a patient. Photo via youtube.com

A nonprofit health information exchange in Grand Rapids has agreed to share its electronic medical records with a similar statewide nonprofit to make their combined data available to medical professionals treating about half the people in Michigan.

The collaboration between the Grand Rapids-based Michigan Health Connect and the East Lansing-based Great Lakes Health Information Exchange announced last month means more than 3,000 health care provider offices and 96 hospitals will have immediate access to vital medical information via a secure electronic network.

 “This is an important advancement for health care in Michigan,” said Doug Dietzman, executive director of Michigan Health Connect. “It means that most of the clinical information exchanged electronically throughout Michigan will be handled by this new, expanded network. Such coordination is vital to improving health care in this state and beyond.”

Health information exchanges

Electronic health information exchange is being implemented across the nation to ensure that doctors, hospitals and other medical professionals have access to a patient’s complete medical record — no matter where that patient seeks treatment.

HIEs provide better care for patients by giving doctors and hospitals all available information about a patient’s medical history and add to cost-saving efficiencies, by preventing duplication of diagnostic tests and other procedures that have already been done at a different location.

The collaboration of the two largest HIEs in Michigan will benefit patients and physicians in places like Ann Arbor — where the University of Michigan Medical Center was served by the Great Lakes Health Information Exchange and St. Joseph Mercy Hospital was served by Michigan Health Connect — noted Carol Parker, executive director of the Great Lakes Health Information Exchange.

“Now both hospitals, serving the same community, can exchange clinical information with no technological barriers,” Parker said. “Being part of this agreement is important, because it’s the logical next step to providing optimal patient care.”

Michigan HIEs

Michigan Health Connect is the largest provider of health information exchange in Michigan, serving 82 hospitals, over 400 medical offices, more than 17,000 individual providers and diverse providers statewide, including federally qualified health clinics, community mental health and long-term care facilities.

The nationally recognized, community-based nonprofit works to enhance patient care by improving access to timely, secure clinical information while streamlining administrative functions for providers.

MHC was founded in Grand Rapids in 2009 by Spectrum Health, Trinity Health and Metro Health.

Great Lakes Health Information Exchange has a master patient index with more than three million patients.

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