Health Care, Nonprofits, and Technology

Health information exchanges merge

January 21, 2014
| By Pete Daly |
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Health information exchanges merge
Grand Rapids-based Michigan Health Connect is a nonprofit health information exchange. Photo via fb.com

Michigan’s two largest health information exchanges, providing doctors and hospitals access to electronic patient records, are planning to merge their nonprofits.

The merger of Grand Rapids-based Michigan Health Connect and East Lansing-based Great Lakes Health Information Exchange will establish one of the largest privately funded, financially sustainable health information exchanges in the country, according to a joint announcement.

The merger of the two nonprofit organizations involves more than 2,000 health care provider offices and more than 100 hospitals and is said to position Michigan as a national leader in the exchange of electronic health records to provide optimal patient care.

The merger will allow a majority of Michigan hospitals and health care providers to electronically exchange patient records.

"Millions of Michigan residents will receive better care and achieve greater levels of personal health as a result of this merger," said Patrick O'Hare, board chair of Michigan Health Connect. "Combining the talent and resources of these two organizations makes perfect sense for Michigan at this time."

The electronic exchange of medical records allows physicians, hospitals and other medical professionals to better coordinate and more securely access a patient's complete health record, no matter where that patient seeks treatment.

"This is the right thing to do for our participating providers and their patients," said Dr. Brian McCardel, board chair of the Great Lakes Health Information Exchange. "This merger means that we can maximize collaboration between providers across Michigan through robust, integrated exchange of clinical information."

Electronic health information exchanges improve 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.

In November, the two organizations announced their agreement to share their electronic records.

MHC was founded in 2009 by the organizations that own the three acute-care hospitals in Grand Rapids.

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