TULSA – A Tulsa-based health data network is expanding nationwide.
MyHealth Access Network has joined three other regional health information exchanges to connect physicians to medical records in other states. That will improve care for patients and save money for hospitals, said Dr. David Kendrick, CEO of MyHealth.
Physicians can get alerted when patients are treated outside of their home state. Doctors treating an out-of-state-based patient will get an alert that can activate the transmission of the patient’s medical records.
Kendrick and his employees developed the software so that multiple electronic health records systems can interact with one another. It began as a way to allow a doctor from one hospital system to get a patient’s medical records if he or she is treated at a different hospital system on the other side of town.
It also helps reduce unnecessary tests, he said.
About 95 percent of patients receive all their health care in a single state. But the remainder don’t, Kendrick said. Some get specialized treatment, like cancer care, in another state, or sometimes a person has to go to the emergency department while vacationing in another state.
“That creates fragmentation in the medical records,” he said. “But for that 2 percent to 5 percent of patients, it can be critical and important their records are unified (across state lines).”
MyHealth joined the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative on Jan. 4. The organization previously worked with three regional initiatives that linked 17 state-based health information exchanges.
The Patient-Centered Data Home initiative generates automatic alerts for health care providers when their patient is treated outside of the patient’s home state. The agreement allows the exchanges to share information across state lines. The patient must consent for the records to be shared.
“It accomplishes three things: it tells you who is the patient, when they were treated and where they got care,” Kendrick said.
The Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative’s members serve about 75 percent of the U.S. population, according to information the organization released on its website.
Kendrick said when western Colorado’s patient records exchange was connected with Utah’s exchange, it helped doctors avoid a duplicative and expensive CT scan for a cancer patient. The oncologist was able to request the patient’s scans and then received the images electronically.
Kendrick said there weren’t any monetary transactions associated with joining the nationwide partnership. Each network covers its own costs to participate in the national exchange. He said he viewed the expense like an infrastructure upgrade to serve his nonprofit organization’s mission.
And participating in the initiative allows him to offer added value to his clients, the hospitals and clinics that use the MyHealth information exchange.
This article originally appeared in the Journal Record.