As health reform continues its steady march towards full implementation, health information technology increasingly becomes a more integral component. The vision that includes electronically connected providers and patients has the potential to save millions of dollars while offering more effective and better quality health care.
Good communication is essential to a provider-patient relationship, and it is just as important in the provider-provider relationship. Doctors need the ability to share critical medical information with each other in a timely, accurate and secure manner. The old system of paper records is inefficient and wrought with errors that can lead to dangerous consequences for patients.
Thankfully, change is afoot as an increasing number of health care providers are utilizing electronic health records (EHR) in some manner. While this news is encouraging, many providers only use EHRs internally, thus eliminating the ability to communicate essential medical information with other providers.
A new bi-state community initiative in the Kansas City Metropolitan Region aims to close this technological gap. eHealthAlign is a new non-profit health information exchange supported by the Mid-America Regional Council, and is locally directed and governed by recognized community leaders.
eHealthAlign will serve the hospitals, private practices and health clinics of 2.6 million residents in a 25 county area that covers both sides of the state line, allowing all partners to securely share health information. The exchange will work with state agencies in Kansas and Missouri to ensure that the technology is compatible with other initiatives in the region.
The long-term benefits of electronically connecting medical providers and patients will far outweigh any short-term costs. The Kansas City Metropolitan Region will have a stronger, safer and more competitive health network that provides better patient care.