Jan. 2020 | Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield has awarded $817,000 to the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership to help South Arkansas hospitals and clinics improve how they exchange patient information and ensure better continuity of care during patient transfers.
The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership is a nonprofit organization made up of 14 hospital members and 108 hospital-owned or affiliated clinics in the southern region of the state. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) supports and works closely with the partnership on professional health education and public health issues.
While some of the partnership’s hospitals and their clinics participate in the State Health Alliance for Records Exchange (SHARE), which is overseen by the Office of Health Information Technology (a division of the Arkansas Department of Health), none of them have been able to fully participate in the exchange because of the high costs of full membership. Several member hospitals currently are only participating at the minimal level and three member hospitals are not sharing data at all.
The one-year grant will help them participate at the highest level. In addition, SHARE will provide ARHP hospitals and health care providers with real-time patient results that will help them identify clinical strengths and areas that might need improvement. SHARE’s daily reports will make available to ARHP health care providers a 24-hour snapshot of critical events (such as emergency room visits and inpatient discharges).
SHARE lets users transmit and exchange clinical information such as clinical care summaries, vital signs, medications, allergies, continuity of care documents (CCDs), transitions of care documents, immunization records, laboratory results, radiology report transcriptions and discharge summaries. Most importantly, other providers can send clinical information instantly, so providers have it before the patients arrive.
SHARE’s vision is a healthier state population and a greatly improved health care system in which care givers and patients have electronic access to more complete health records and are empowered to make better health decisions with this information. SHARE’s mission is to improve the delivery, coordination and quality of health care throughout Arkansas through the statewide use of health information technology and clinical data exchange.
“It is imperative our member hospitals be fully prepared for value-based care,” said Mellie Bridewell, the partnership’s CEO and a UAMS regional director of strategy, management and administration. “They must be able to share and have access to patient data as well as have the support of a system that can assist them with compiling and collecting the data to use in treating their patients. Without this assistance, our small rural hospitals will not be able to financially survive the changes ahead.”
New value-based care models for payment to health care providers are driving a shift to population health approaches that focus on prevention, improved chronic disease management and wellness activities and away from the traditional fee-for-service model.
The donation from Arkansas Blue Cross will pay for the costs of upgrading equipment and annual dues for its member hospitals and clinics to participate fully in the exchange. There is no funding mechanism to assist rural hospitals and clinics with the annual costs of participating in SHARE.
“Making sure doctors and hospitals in all areas of the state have the information they need to treat their patients is critical to overall quality. And we believe that all stakeholders have a role to play in making the health care delivery system more effective and sustainable for the people we serve,” said Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross. “We also know that we produce better results when we work collaboratively. To that end, Arkansas Blue Cross is embracing current and emerging technologies as a key strategy to use information more effectively to create a healthier Arkansas. We are confident this grant will bring us a step closer to that goal.”
The partnership has been successful in obtaining grants and donations to support their member hospitals and clinics with quality improvement initiatives and care coordination. It also has plans for population health projects in 2020 and for assisting its members with digital health technology to expand these opportunities.
Let's start at the beginning! Did you know that the term "health information exchange" is used to refer to two distinct concepts interchangeably?
The verb "health information exchange" refers to the act of moving health-related information electronically among multiple organizations within a region, community, or hospital system, while a "Health Information Exchange" (HIE) is a noun referring to a formal entity providing a set of services that enable the collection and sharing of a patient's information among participating organizations.
The ability to exchange health information electronically is the foundation of efforts to transform the healthcare system.
Mainline Health Systems, Inc. has expanded into Warren and Bradley County staffed by Dr. Kerry Pennington and Dr. Joe Wharton. The clinic has a staff of more than 25 including APRN's Tammy Green, Karen Richardson and Heath Reep. The clinic provides primary medical care, lab services, x-ray services, case management and eventually integrated behavioral services. SHARE is excited to be fully integrated with Mainline Health Systems- Warren receiving Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs) through our eClinical Works EMR interface.
Mainline Health Systems- Warren Clinic will also start using SHARE’s 24-hour daily reports alerting the providers and care managers when their patients are seen at the ED and have an inpatient discharge in real-time.
About Mainline Health Systems
Mainline Health Systems is a non-profit organization. They have provided affordable medical and dental care for the residents of Southeast Arkansas since 1978. From their first office in Portland all those years ago, Mainline Health Systems has grown to 18 locations serving Arkansas residents in Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Cleveland, Drew, and Lincoln counties.
Every year, their healthcare professionals treat thousands of patients who either have no insurance or not enough insurance to cover essential health services. They will never deny care to those in need. Their mission is to provide compassionate, quality care for everyone, regardless of ability to pay. Their financial assistance programs ensure that everyone in their communities who require medical or dental care can receive it.
Mainline Health Systems is Committed to their Communities
Little Rock- The Arkansas Department of Health's (ADH) network of Local Health Units (LHU) is now using the State Health Alliance for Records Exchange (SHARE), one of the country's largest and most robust health information exchanges (HIE). LHUs can now access clinical information across participating entities for patients who have authorized sharing their medical information, allowing clinics to have accurate and up to date results for their patients.
There are 93 clinics across the state, including at least one in every county in the state. They provide prenatal care, family planning, annual exams, maternity care, breast care, immunizations, sexually transmitted disease testing and community outreach.
"As the healthcare landscape continues to transform, HIEs continue to play a key role in providing data that fuels innovation. SHARE and the ADH Local Health Units are working together to contribute to these innovation efforts such as population health initiatives, assisting with high-risk patients and identifying potential social determinants of health," said Anne Santifer, Executive Director of the Office of Health Information Technology.
In Arkansas, where many health systems use disparate EHR systems, this is a particularly important milestone. SHARE will allow Local Health Unit providers access to a variety of test results and medical records as well as discharge summaries from outside hospitals and specialty clinics within their Greenway EMR System. The following patient data can be viewed through SHARE's Virtual Health Record (VHR):
- Admission, Discharge and Transfer Data
- Allergies, Problems, Medications
- Demographics and Insurance Information
- Laboratory Results, Radiology Reports
- Discharge Summaries
- Continuity of Care Documents (CCDs)
- Progress Notes
Accessing patient information through this secure exchange allows better coordination with hospitals, specialists, and referral partners. Clinics will be able to see more robust picture of their patient's medical histories, ensuring an efficient and safe continuity of care.
SHARE's VHR display information as a traditional clinical chart, with tabs to separate patient information into groups for easy chart review. VHR retrieves and shows all available data for a selected patient gathered form all participants within SHARE to enable a single, consolidated view of a patient's health history.
SHARE's continued mission is to provide better information to support high quality patient care for the Arkansas healthcare community by increasing real-time patient data results in the HIE when doctors, providers and care teams need it.