Health Care, Nonprofits, and Technology

Health information exchange commits $250K to Flint

February 15, 2016
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Great Lakes Health Connect GLHC
Great Lakes Health Connect, or GLHC, is a nonprofit health information exchange, or HIE, based in Grand Rapids. Photo via

A Grand Rapids-based health information exchange will collaborate with several other organizations across the state to provide help to the children and families of Flint dealing with the long-term health effects of the city’s water crisis.

Great Lakes Health Connect, or GLHC, said it will invest $250,000 in collaboration with the Greater Flint Health Coalition and the health care community throughout Flint and Genesee County to “build up the region’s health IT infrastructure,” which it said is essential to the “most timely, accurate and secure exchange of medical data, diagnosis and treatment.”

GLHC is among the leading providers of HIE services in the nation.

“The goal of the Great Lakes Health Connect board of directors is to give those responding to the health care needs of Flint’s residents the tools needed to coordinate care and positively impact the health and wellbeing of Flint’s citizens over the long term,” said Tom Bres, GLHC board chair.

The investment is targeted at meeting the special needs of the crisis and is aimed at connecting all Genesee County health care providers to GLHC’s statewide HIE network.

Establishing this technological connectivity will enable health care providers with enhanced communication to facilitate the long-term care coordination for more than 420,000 Genesee County residents, Bres said.

GLHC said connecting all Genesee County health care entities would ensure the region’s providers have access to the most secure, accurate and timely medical data for generations to come.

In addition, GLHC will connect community service organizations such as the Greater Flint Health Coalition to facilitate their efforts in support of the overall lead exposure response.

GLHC said it is committed to leveraging the HIE power in all aspects of community-based health care, from physicians and hospitals to outpatient clinics, dental offices and other health organizations serving Michigan residents.

“This integrated network of providers holds the potential for establishing the greater Flint region as the benchmark model for a care-connected community in the United States — a virtual environment where information can be shared quickly among health care providers, leading to more effective, efficient health care services,” Bres said.

The financial commitment being made by GLHC consists of: $100,000 earmarked for a Community Interface Grant that will cover costs associated with linking more than 40 physician offices countywide; $90,000 for a dedicated implementation consultant to coordinate the initiative at the local level; $50,000 will involve the build-out of the analytics engine enabling the shared communications and detailed data analysis that will be needed for decades to come; and a $10,000 education grant established to facilitate training for all entities being connected.

Dr. Larry Reynolds, president and CEO of Mott Children’s Health Center, expressed his “sincerest gratitude,” on behalf of the “hundreds of health care providers throughout Genesee County,” in response to the donation.

“As health care providers, we will persevere in providing those we serve with the education, testing and treatment they may need now and over the years to come,” he said.

“The state of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services believe collaborating with public and private partners is critically important as we assist children and families in Flint affected by the water emergency,” said Dr. Eden Wells, the state’s chief medical executive. “The efforts and generous financial contribution from Great Lakes Health Connect and partnerships like this with the Greater Flint Health Coalition and health care providers will enhance care coordination so families have access to more timely diagnosis and treatment.”

Flint-area hospitals currently leverage a variety of GLHC solutions and contribute to its registries within their emergency department, inpatient, outpatient and physician practice environments.

More than 4,000 provider offices and 128 Michigan hospitals representing 100 percent of hospitals in Genesee County and 85 percent of the acute care beds in the state access the Great Lakes Health Connect registries and solutions.

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