Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick has launched a first-in-the-nation health information exchange highway. Officials say it will allow medical providers in the Baystate to share patient information, improve health care quality and contain costs. Today’s [Tuesday] video-conferenced demonstration involved sending the governor’s own medical records from Boston to Springfield via a secure web-based connection. The Governor’s personal physician, Dr. Harry Rubash, demonstrated the new system.
“Well the first thing we’re going to do here is search a recipient. And the recipient will be Baystate. Next we will select the patient…I think we know the patient.”
And then, as directed by Rubash to confirm he really wanted to send his medical records, Patrick pressed the button to electronically transmit them from Boston’s Mass General to Springfield’s Baystate Medical via the state’s new so-called Health Information Highway. Joel Vengco, Baystate’s Chief Information Officer, says most health systems around the state and country already have electronic medical records. But he says this is the first time multiple providers, large and small, with different proprietary systems will be able to instantly and securely exchange patient information with a simple mouse-click, unlike the current system of copying and mailing or faxing health records.
“If we’re able to even exchange between Baystate and Holyoke or Berkshire, for example, you know that becomes a significant value for the patient. Providers have comprehensive information and we don’t have to do redundant tests, we don’t have to do redundant procedures. And we have the ability to treat the patients with higher quality because we know them better than without having that information.”
The Health information Exchange, which is funded by a combination of federal Stimulus and Medicaid dollars, also requires patients to give their consent to have their medical records sent over the web-based highway.