Hospital systems unite to share info

Jul 3 2011 - 10:48pm

All four major hospital systems in Utah -- IASIS Healthcare, Intermountain Healthcare, MountainStar and University of Utah Health Care -- are collaborating to support the state's Clinical Health Information Exchange (cHIE), a program launched to enable health care professionals to securely share patients' health information.

The information, which can only be shared with the patient's permission, will provide health care workers with vital information concerning medical and prescription history.

"We are thrilled to be launching cHIE because of the tremendous benefits it has for patients and health care providers," said Jan Root, president and CEO of Utah Health Information Network. "cHIE will give the patient the ability to directly impact the quality and safety of their health care as well as the cost."

Root said when cHIE is fully in place, it will take the hassle out of health care. Patients with chronic conditions won't have to bring along bags of prescription bottles when they see their doctor. In addition, if a person is injured while on vacation, their medical information can be available in the emergency room.

Utah is one of the first states to put this type of quality improvement in place, Root said. Root said that having patient information scattered among different physicians and specialists wastes time, causes repeated medical tests, reduces accuracy of diagnosis and contributes to medical errors.

Dr. Scott Anders, medical director of MountainStar Medical Group, said the project will significantly improve patient care throughout the state.

"When patient consent is given, our physicians and other health care providers can provide better and faster care based on more complete medical information that includes hospital records," Anders said.

Participation in cHIE is voluntary and free to the patient, Root said, and patients must sign a consent form at their doctor's office. Once the consent has been added to the system, a patient's medical information -- such as medical history, allergies, lab reports, prior office visits and X-rays -- can be shared by providers.

"Having access to this type of health information is vital for medical professionals because now it's spread among numerous health care providers and is impossible to track," said Dr. David Cole, president of the Utah Medical Association. "Having this information helps doctors do their jobs better."

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