Sharing empowers doctors [St. Joseph News-Press (MO)]
(St. Joseph News-Press (MO) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) A month ago we noted Heartland Health had received national recognition " an "A' grade " in a study of how well hospitals provide for their patients' safety. A big reason was the local health care system's commitment to electronic medical records.
Now Heartland is making news with perhaps an even greater impact on patient care. Last week, officials announced 15 hospitals and clinics in the Kansas City area will share control over an electronic medical records initiative developed and, to this point, solely managed by our health system.
The Lewis and Clark Information Exchange (LACIE) grew out of a collaboration begun in 2007 between Heartland and Cerner Corp., the big health care software company based in North Kansas City. It is one of the first regional computer networks in the Midwest that allows care providers to securely share patient information to improve care and lower costs.
The distances Heartland's patients sometimes must travel are a big part of why this made sense in the first place. So, too, is the frequency with which people see one doctor for one ailment and someone else for something else.
Thanks to LACIE, people across the Midland Empire can see a doctor in their home community, St. Joseph or both and expect their health care provider to have access to their up-to-date medical history, immunization records, lab tests, X-rays, prescriptions and other data vital to their care.
Starting in April, the Greater Kansas City LACIE Collaboration will assume oversight of this technology partnership as these advantages spread to some of the largest health care providers in the region: University of Kansas Hospital, Shawnee Mission Medical Center, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, Olathe Medical Center and others.
Heartland officials were said to be very interested in increasing medical information sharing in the region. Officials even talk of new partnerships extending up to the Iowa border. At the same time, the Kansas City providers expressed unease with Heartland having sole oversight of a system on which they will become increasingly dependent.
Sharing leadership of LACIE after all of the effort it took to develop and deploy the system may give pause to some at Heartland. But if this decision leads to more sharing of data, makes health care access more convenient and patient care more efficient and safer, it's a small price to pay.
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