ERs are proving ground for patient data sharing initiatives to cut costs

From MedCity News:

Even if ER staff do know about visits to other hospitals, sharing information about the patient is a struggle. “I have to tell my unit coordinator to call over to the other hospital and have them fax over the records,” said Sorrell. Sometimes, a 50-page fax will arrive, which Sorrell must sift through while juggling dozens of other patients.

But that vexing reality may soon change for hospitals in Alameda County, as they team up to share patient health records and other data in real time among their emergency departments.

So far, their partnership includes four Sutter Health hospitals and two Alameda Health System hospitals. Since the program began on March 31, Alta Bates and Highland Hospitals have learned that they shared more than 2,000 patients, and over a third of them made six or more ER visits in the past year.

The hospitals share a system called PreManage ED, which tracks all of their ER patients. When an emergency department enters a patient’s name into the system, it gets an alert if that patient has visited other hospitals. If so, the emergency department staff can view information about the patient’s recent treatment and find out whether he or she already has a case manager somewhere else.

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