Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Electronic Exchange in EDs

Ten Oklahoma City metro hospital organizations have just finalized an electronic data sharing network agreement. The hospitals will use the Secure Medical Records Transfer Network (SMRTNET) available through an AHRQ grant established by the Cherokee County Health Service Council to share electronic records for emergency department patients.

The system will exchange patient demographics, medications, allergies, and reactions, diagnosis history, laboratory results, procedures, immunizations, and health care providers. SMRTNET is operating successfully in northeast Oklahoma and handles more than 4000,000 medical records in the network. It is anticipated that there will be $14 million in savings and quality improvement in 30 out of 90 hospitals.

According to Dr. George Foster, Dean, Oklahoma College of Optometry, and a member organization of SMRTNET, this is the only Oklahoma county health authority to explore policies and health changing opportunities at a local level that can then be modeled at the national level.

The initial implementation of the electronic records exchange will be complete in about 120 days and will provide a backbone to construct a more expanded community network in the future. The system will be launched in the emergency departments initially, but will be expanded to include additional ancillary tests and procedures in coming years. The group also hopes to expand the network to community free clinics.