Why should I join a Health Information Exchange? – by Paul Brannan, One Health Record® Director

In my role as Director of One Health Record®, I am often asked: “Why should I join a Health Information Exchange (HIE)?” There are as many different reasons as there are provider types in Alabama. But here are three of the most common reasons a provider should connect to One Health Record®.

 First, a HIE improves the quality and safety of patient care. Today’s patients see a variety of providers ranging from walk-in clinics and primary care doctors to specialists and hospital-based providers. Often their records are segmented among these various groups. A HIE can ensure that each provider has access to the same information as it pulls longitudinal health records from the systems of each participating provider. This information can reduce medication and treatment errors as well as eliminate unnecessary tests and improve diagnoses. But it only works if you are connected.

A HIE increases provider efficiency by reducing unnecessary paperwork. Many providers have taken advantage of funds made available by the federal government to make the move to electronic health records. This move can simplify record keeping by eliminating entire rooms of file cabinets of patient records and speeding access to records when needed via electronic search. But often these records must be shared with others outside of the practice for various reasons (testing, referrals, etc.). Without a means to share these records electronically, providers are forced to print entire records which then have to be physically moved to outside practice’s location. A HIE allows a provider to request data and receive it back electronically in real time. This eliminates time delays, paper cost and the manpower needed to find, copy and send the record.

HIEs allow interoperability between different Electronic Medical Record systems (EMRs). Most EMRs can share records with other providers who use the same system. But sharing records with other EMRs can be problematic, despite existing health care information standards. HIEs make sure your EMR is receiving health records in the format it is expecting, so it can accurately display the information about your patient.

One Health Record® can provide all these benefits (and many more) today. We would welcome your participation in our HIE. We do not charge you to connect or use our system. Please visit our newly updated website, http://onehealthrecord.alabama.gov/, or email us at OneHealthRecord@medicaid.alabama.gov for more information.

Paul Brannan was appointed by the Governor to serve as the state’s coordinator for health information technology in 2015.  He previously served as Director of the Project Management Office for the Alabama Medicaid Agency where he was responsible for providing project management support for all enterprise-wide Agency projects including Medicaid’s transition to Regional Care Organizations.