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San Antonio Blazes New Trail In Electronic Health Records
April 1, 2011

San Antonio, TX -- Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA), a local not-for-profit health care collaborative, will receive $300,000 from the state to expand San Antonio's health information exchange-a critical step for the city and surrounding areas as the healthcare community begins to implement the Affordable Care Act locally. Already, HASA members, which include Baptist Health System; CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Healthcare; Methodist Healthcare System; University Health System; Methodist Healthcare Ministries; Communicare Health Centers; CentroMed; Daughters of Charity; Southwest Texas Network (consisting of five community health center organizations); and the San Antonio MetroHealth Department, have collaborated to create a shared electronic health record to improve access to care for residents. The funds are a vital step in enhancing treatment and improving patient outcomes in our area.

The potential to electronically exchange patient information in a secure and safe environment is hailed by many local health providers as a critical component of health care advancement.

"Many of our physicians already use electronic medical records and their ability to collect patient information from other providers in an easy-to-use and organized format will improve in the quality of health care they can provide for their patients", states John Wisnieski, Executive Director for the Bexar County Medical Society. Physicians have maintained that having access to critical patient information from multiple provider sources, they can diagnose more precisely, avoid duplicate and costly testing, and more easily refer patients to appropriate providers. Furthermore, emergency room visits can be better triaged with more extensive patient information. Over time, patients can obtain an aggregate history of their medical events, allowing them to become more engaged in their own health care.

"San Antonio is ahead of many communities in Texas when it comes to health information exchange, not in the least due to the high level of collaboration," states Gijs van Oort, HASA's Executive Director. "Over the past few years, this community has come together to address many critical issues around healthcare access. With the federal focus on electronic data exchange and the funding that comes to us through the state, we will be able to expand the capabilities of our data exchange and make it available to a larger region."

HASA's funding will be awarded in stages; the first stage will occur in the Spring, in which HASA will receive $300,000 for planning to advance its patient platform, engage new stakeholders in the service area and submit a two-year plan to the state. Upon approval of those plans, additional funding will be made available for implementation, engaging the community and providing evidence that the community values the program.

"Our goal is to create a central patient record that contains critical health information for providers that is safe and secured from unwanted viewing," says van Oort. "This will be an invaluable source to support physician decision making, and become the point of choice for patients to access their personal health history and pursue health information targeted to suit their individual needs. Imagine a patient who is scheduled for a visit with her primary care physician, and she can bring with her an entire summary of her medical history, including a record of her self-monitored blood pressure readings. In the course of the visit, the doctor can pull up her medical history from multiple locations, prescribe her medications electronically and refer her to a colleague across town if necessary.

"In the next few months, many issues will have to be addressed," van Oort continues. "Patient privacy and data security will be central to all we are doing. We have already worked hard to gain the support of our stakeholders and we have clearly identified the role that our community exchange will play in supporting the electronic needs of our stakeholders. We will continue to reach out to providers to solicit their support for this exciting opportunity, which is paramount to our ability to secure optimal funding for our region."

About Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA)
For more information regarding Healthcare Access San Antonio, please contact: Gijs van Oort, PhD, Executive Director at gvanoort.hasa@gmail.com or 210.233.7079.

 

 

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