State & NO-area docs linking patient records

Associated Press Modified: November 14, 2012 at 5:01 am •  Published: November 14, 2012
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NEW ORLEANS (AP) — A New Orleans hospital and 11 clinics are hooked up to share electronic health records so doctors can see what treatments a patient has had and whether a new prescription would interact well or badly with medicines already being taken.

The Greater New Orleans Health Information Exchange includes 160 doctors at the LSU Interim Hospital and clinics including the Common Ground Health Clinic, the NO/AIDS Task Force and the Tulane Ruth Fertel Community Health Center. Together, they care for more than 250,000 patients.

A suburban hospital is near agreement, said Anjum Khurshid, project director of the Crescent City Beacon Community, a Louisiana Public Health Institute project formed to use health information technology to make health care more accountable and efficient.

State Health and Hospitals Secretary Bruce Greenstein, City Health Commissioner Karen DeSalvo, community partners, patients, and local public health leaders planned to demonstrate the network Wednesday afternoon.

Such exchanges are being designed around the country because different hospitals and doctors use different software for their records, making it difficult to exchange information securely and quickly.

Whatever program they're using, the information is automatically added to the exchange for patients who have authorized it, Khurshid said.

Supporters say the exchanges will reduce duplicate forms and tests, hospital readmissions and waits for specialist referrals. Patients' primary care physicians are automatically notified when a specialist or other doctor in the exchange treats them, Khurshid said.