By CELESTE BOTT
Capital News Service
LANSING – A three-year pilot project for an electronic database of patient information may help make health care safer, more efficient and more affordable.
It could help lead to a system in which all providers know the relevant details about their patients, without those patients filling out tedious and repetitive forms.
The Michigan Health Information Network (MiHIN), based in Grand Rapids, is partnering with Illinois-based Care Team Connect to better coordinate that kind of health care through technology.
MiHIN is funding the ongoing Michigan Primary Care Transformation Project, which will allow participating care managers to receive real-time notifications of admissions, discharges and transfers of patients.
Care Team Connect will initially provide data for an estimated 25,000 Grand Rapids-area patients.
The project will record patients’ medical information and provide treatment updates among physicians electronically through a health information network in Grand Rapids.
Electronic systems, according to MiHIN, allow for quicker patient assessments, better treatment and ultimately greater patient safety.
Tim Pletcher, executive director of the network, said that giving providers quick access to vital patient information can improve health care statewide. The pilot, he said, will allow those providers the opportunity to see the benefits of such a system.
“The pilot has entered full production,” he said. “It’s allowing practices to assess the value of communicating critical transitions of care.”
The technology will use data from MiHIN to ensure that patients who are discharged from hospitals receive the proper follow-up to successfully manage their chronic disease and avoid future hospitalizations.
This quickly accessible information will then be used to generate a care plan for each patient.
The goal is to connect hospitals and community health providers to improve outcomes while significantly reducing the overall cost of care.
Ben Albert, chief executive officer of Care Team Connect, said he expects better patient care as a result of the Michigan partnership.
“The speed and accuracy with which Care Team Connect is now able to capture relevant data will have a positive impact on the follow-up care that patients, especially those that need the most help, receive,” Albert said.
Better follow-up care, according to the network, could ultimately save money through fewer hospital visits.
According to a 2012 Vanderbilt University study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, fast electronic access to patients’ clinical saved one hospital $1.9 million.
Hospital admissions that were reduced accounted for 97.6 percent of the savings.
If the Michigan pilot is successful, it’s the network’s goal for more health facilities to participate.
Eventually, if the system is widely implemented, a patient could go to any Michigan health care facility, where the physician can access that patient’s records without the need for more forms or contacting prior providers.
There are a number of health information exchanges available through MiHIN across the state, including Jackson Community Medical Records, based in Jackson; Southeast Michigan Health Information Exchange, based in Ann Arbor; Upper Peninsula Health Information Exchange, based in Marquette; and Michigan Health Connect, based in Grand Rapids.
In December the Southeast Michigan Beacon Community joined MiHIN, making health data exchange available to many Detroit-area facilities, including the Detroit Medical Center and its affiliates.
In addition, the Mecosta County Medical Center just signed on with Michigan Health Connect.
The center in Big Rapids will now be part of a network that includes 57 other hospitals, 1,551 medical offices and more than 7,000 individual health care providers statewide.
Mike Miller, director of information technology at the Mecosta County Medical Center, said certain patients can significantly benefit from the system.
“For older patients and those with debilitating chronic conditions, it’s vital to transfer their complete medical record as fast as possible,” Miller said.
By CELESTE BOTT