Magnolia Regional Medical Center Pushes Patient Health Information to Statewide HIE
Magnolia Regional Medical Center (MRMC) is today announcing its participation in SHARE (Arkansas State Health Alliance for Records Exchange), the statewide health information exchange (HIE) that enables the real-time, secure, electronic exchange of MRMC patient health records with other health care entities where MRMC patients are also being treated.
Arkansas’ statewide HIE make it possible for patients’ electronic health records from one medical system or provider to be shared with any other providers on their healthcare team, whether or not those providers are using the same electronic health records systems. Through SHARE, a private primary care physician from out of town is able to access her patient’s full electronic health record while he is being treated at MRMC, receiving real-time updates about his or her care.
“Having a strong, secure network for sharing patient health records will improve the quality and speed of care for our patients,” said Margaret West, MRMC Chief Executive Officer. “When patients can trust that their medical information will follow them no matter where they are being treated, we will benefit from both improved patient satisfaction and more cost-effective care through reduced duplicate testing.”
Using SHARE, an outside physician referring a patient to MRMC can immediately transfer the patient’s electronic medical history to MRMC, reducing redundancy and cost of treatment and improving patient care coordination. MRMC will push its patients’ admission, discharge and transfer information, lab results and X-ray reports from its electronic health record system to SHARE for outside providers caring for MRMC patients to access as needed.
MRMC patient data are now part of the more than 943,683 secure patient records being exchanged by Arkansas’ patients’ health providers through SHARE. The statewide movement of health information will become increasingly effective as more Arkansas health care entities implement SHARE and exchange health data with MRMC clinics. As of this month, 27 Arkansas hospitals have connected or are connecting to SHARE, along with 341 practices.
“By activating SHARE, MRMC leadership has taken a major step forward in improving the delivery and outcomes of care for MRMC patients,” said Arkansas Health Information Technology Coordinator Ray Scott, citing the value of synchronizing the different health records kept by a patient’s various health care providers.
“We are finding that fewer patients see only one physician or go to only one health care organization for care. National data indicate the average American patient has seen 18 different doctors, and up to 28 different doctors if they have a chronic disease like diabetes or a heart condition,” Scott said. “These providers need to be working from the patient’s same master electronic health record. It just makes sense.”
All electronic health information exchanged in SHARE is protected under the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act (HIPAA) and safeguarded by security protocols that provide a higher level of privacy and accountability than paper health records.
Patients do not have to take any action to participate in SHARE, although they can decline to participate. Patients checking into MRMC will receive information about the connection, including an option to opt-out of participation. When individual patients opt out of SHARE, their electronic health records will only be shared with other providers on their healthcare team in the event of a healthcare emergency.
As part of the national plan to reduce health care costs and improve the quality of health care, the federal government is encouraging adoption and meaningful use of electronic health record (EHR) systems and HIEs like SHARE. The U.S. Congress has appropriated about $20 billion for Medicare and Medicaid EHR Incentive Program payments to qualified health care providers and hospitals under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA).