New electronic program connects hospital and health care providers – News – Savannah Morning News


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Electronic medical record communications begin Wednesday between the first two partners in a local uninsured healthcare collaboration.

The JC Lewis Primary Healthcare Center, a Union Mission program, and the Emergency Department at Memorial University Medical Center will launch the Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council Health Information Exchange pilot project, said Dr Paula Reynolds, executive director of the board.

The program will start at the health center on rue Fahm.

“This is a big step for Chatham County and the first health information exchange in the state of Georgia,” Reynolds said.

The two partners will share medical records of uninsured and underinsured patients with care providers to increase efficiency and promote access to care, Reynolds said.

The record exchange program ensures patient confidentiality while improving the ability of health care providers to share information for the benefit of the patient.

JC Lewis and Memorial are among the seven healthcare providers in the Collaborative Safety Network.

“Once the information exchange matures, it doesn’t matter where in Chatham County a patient goes for services, as the system will store complete records for each patient,” said Reynolds.

The Community Health Mission and St. Mary’s Community Health Center are in the process of adopting the system to be able to connect to the system, she said.

And Curtis V. Cooper Primary Health Care and the Ryan White Clinic plan to use federal stimulus dollars to embrace electronic medical records in the near future, Reynolds said.

Reduce duplication of services

Aretha Jones, vice president of health services at Union Mission, said the program will reduce duplication of services for patients, streamline delivery services and improve patient care.

This will prevent a patient from going to a local emergency room and then going to the primary care provider and having tests or medications repeated.

“We can see what has been done in the hospital and give them better care,” Jones said.

JC Lewis serves approximately 6,000 patients, all of whom are uninsured or underinsured.

These patients will have a choice of whether or not to join the program, but “we hope they all participate,” Jones said.

Everyone benefits

Patty Lavely, chief information officer for Memorial Health, said the system would benefit both patients and providers.

“Our challenge is to get the patient to the right place to receive care,” she said.

The joint program treats patients at Memorial University Medical Center and JC Lewis, she said.

It took about 18 months to get there, she says.

It costs more to treat a patient in Memorial’s emergency department than in JC Lewis, but the patient is best served with the primary care provider who is better informed about that particular patient.

“It is more convenient for the patient to be seen in the primary care office,” Lavely said.

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About Irene J. O'Donnell

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