Summit medical providers may collaborate and share electronic medical records | SummitDaily.com
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Summit medical providers may collaborate and share electronic medical records

CAITLIN ROW
summit daily news

SUMMIT COUNTY – With Colorado’s health care entities hoping to build a network of electronic medical records across the state, Summit County’s own providers joined together to collaborate and connect.

To do this, they’ve gathered representatives from St. Anthony Summit Medical Center, the Summit Community Care Clinic, High Country Health Care, Summit County Public Health, Colorado West Mental Health, and others to meet as part of a health care collaborative roundtable.

“I see this as a very exciting time for health care with health care reform,” said Summit Community Care Clinic executive director Sarah Vaine. “It’s really challenging us to look at how we do things and then do them in a better way. We’re looking at our whole system to decide if what we’re doing is improving the health of our patients.”

Vaine also said “Summit County is a special place because we have such excellent relationships between organizations. We’ve had meetings with providers in Summit County to figure out how we can work together.” Health care collaborative meetings are being held to make decisions on how to better work together and communicate locally.

“We’re working on it in Summit County,” said Summit County Public Health director Deb Crook. “We have good partners and we’re going to have a medical roundtable meeting on it in July.”

The CEO of Quality Health Network (QHN) – out of Grand Junction – will lead the gathering with county stakeholders in July. Grand Junction’s QHN file-sharing network is a model for other health care entities in the push for file sharing across the state and even nationally.

This will help “build a road map so we’re proactive, not reactive, to changes in health care,” Vaine added.

With so many separate health care entities throughout the state, officials say connecting its electronic files will improve health services across the board.

Electronic file sharing is key to bettering health care on every level because it lowers costs and improves patient care, Vaine said. She also noted that it prevents problems from arising during treatment because providers would have access to all medical records up front.

Crook agreed, adding that electronic medical records would be shared between health care entities in a confidential way.

High Country Health Care (HCHC), a large, local health care provider, is one example of how using an electronic network for its medical records can improve care. HCHC has been using an electronic filing system since 2006, and it already connected to some pathology groups and laboratories. This improves communication between collaborating entities.

“In September, we’re moving to a new medical electronic record system,” said High Country Health Care interim CEO Rhonda Koehn. “We’re prepping right now with file conversion, and we hope with the new system we will be connected to more, like all laboratories we work with and all the pathology groups.”

Koehn also said High Country Health Care will be involved with statewide electronic file sharing as it progresses, including connections to pharmacies.

“We have every intention of being involved so we can send and receive information,” she said.

According to a recent Denver Post article, a collaborative effort led by CORHIO – the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization – will be creating regional electronic information-sharing networks, starting in the San Luis Valley, Boulder and Colorado Springs. A $16.5 million grant from the Colorado Health Foundation and $9 million in federal stimulus funds are also supporting the project. The state additionally received $12.7 million in federal stimulus money to help doctors’ offices choose software companies and set up their own electronic systems. The ultimate statewide plan is to link all the electronic health care records systems in Colorado into one network.

“I’m excited to hear that there’s funding,” Crook said.

The Denver Post contributed to this article.

SDN reporter Caitlin Row can be reached at (970) 668-4633 or at crow@summitdaily.com.


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