In an effort to help speed Oklahoma’s recovery, rapidly identify and contain potential new COVID-19 hot spots and ensure that front line health care providers and public health experts have the most current and comprehensive test results, MyHealth Access Network will provide its secure health records portal to all qualified providers in Oklahoma. These services are being made available to all qualified Oklahoma providers through September 1, 2020, thanks to a generous grant from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma. The new program will enable front line health care providers to use MyHealth to reference patient health data, including any test results for COVID-19, in real-time.
“Our vision at MyHealth has always been to connect all of the state’s laboratories, clinics, hospitals, and other provider organizations on one network in order to provide a complete and accurate picture of each patient’s health,” said MyHealth President and CEO Dr. David Kendrick. “Oklahoma’s health care community has supported MyHealth in pursuit of that goal since our founding in 2010, and the COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of that decade of investment in our infrastructure. MyHealth’s real-time data exchange provides those on the front line with immediate access to lab results and other health information they need to keep their patients and themselves safe. Thanks to this generous gift from Blue Cross and Blue Shield, many more patients in Oklahoma can have the benefit of being cared for by a connected, fully-informed provider.”
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma President Joseph R. Cunningham, M.D., said that his organization’s investment is intended to save lives by ensuring providers have access to the information they need in the fight against the coronavirus.
“We believe having the ability to connect health care providers across our state to the most comprehensive information they need to treat patients is vital to keeping Oklahoma safe and healthy, especially during this COVID-19 outbreak,” said Joseph R. Cunningham, M.D., president of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma. “We have invested in the MyHealth program because we want to help strengthen this tool by covering costs to get all providers, including first responders, on board so we can all work together to ultimately save more lives.”
Qualified providers for this program will include the first responders, doctors, hospitals, agencies and long-term care providers who come into contact with patients before their COVID-19 status is known or who may encounter these patients later and need to verify testing status. Unfortunately, most test results reported by the state are not available to all health care providers. MyHealth is working hard to correct that gap by connecting all COVID-19 laboratories into the network. Both positive and negative test results are important and are routinely available in MyHealth, enabling front line providers to know whether they need to self-quarantine immediately. In one case, first responders of the Broken Arrow Fire Department using MyHealth were able to identify that multiple patients they transported were COVID-19 positive more than 48 hours before the state was aware of the result. This enabled immediate quarantine and protected scores of additional patients from being potentially exposed as they sought EMS services.
Access to timely testing results is also particularly important for skilled nursing facilities, whose residents are uniquely vulnerable to COVID-19.
“Our facilities are the tip of the spear when it comes to fighting the coronavirus, and it’s really important the information we have on our residents and our staff is up-to-date and accurate,” said Care Providers Oklahoma President and CEO Steven Buck. “Many of our residents also have medical conditions that necessitate visits to local hospitals and other healthcare providers and the information-sharing offered by MyHealth is especially critical when we are working with multiple medical professionals.”
Oklahoma Hospital Association President Patti Davis said hospitals were also poised to benefit from the announcement from BCBSOK and MyHealth.
“This is a great private-sector strategy for combatting a public health emergency,” said Davis. “Greater use of MyHealth’s reporting technology will cut lag-time for testing results, not only for patients, but for the frontline health care workers providing care. Having a more complete picture of the spread of this virus will also help to inform where and how we deploy personal protective equipment.”
The MyHealth portal and network allow health care providers to access their patients’ data, including COVID-19 tests, across multiple provider networks. MyHealth has already helped to successfully identify emerging hotspots in different areas of the state by pulling together test results from more than 30 labs into a single picture of COVID-19 for the state. This more complete picture is also more timely, with most labs reporting to MyHealth 48-72 hours earlier than to the state health department. When coupled with an hourly update schedule, MyHealth provides an early warning system to identify localized outbreaks.
“Good data is the cornerstone of good medicine,” said Oklahoma State Medical Association Board of Trustees President Dr. George Monks. “MyHealth can provide health professionals with a clearer picture of where viral hotspots occur and enable state and local experts to work with fellow physicians to better address patient needs.”
The MyHealth platform also greatly enhances “contact tracing” efforts by enabling a clear view of all other healthcare locations and providers that have been involved in each patient’s care. For instance, the patient’s journey may begin with a first responder and continue to an emergency room, and from there back home to follow up with a primary care provider or urgent care. Each of these steps in the process and the providers involved are available in MyHealth’s portal. Interested providers are encouraged to apply online at www.myhealthaccess.net.