UPMC’s Electronic Hospital Link Gets Started

From Pittsburgh Business Times, June 26, 2012

Some doctors and nurses at Heritage Valley Health System and Butler Health System can now share medical records from hospitals connected to an electronic link, the first of its kind in western Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center announced on Monday.

Over the next year, all members of UPMC’s ClinicalConnect health information exchange will be able to securely share and see clinical records, which will result in improved patient care and fewer duplicate tests. In addition to Heritage Valley, the health information exchange’s founding members are Altoona Regional Health System, Armstrong County Memorial Hospital, Excela Health, Jefferson Regional Medical Center, St. Clair Hospital and Washington Hospital.

“ClinicalConnect allows critical information to move with the patient and lets physicians and nurses focus on providing the best possible care, instead of the time consuming task of tracking down patient data through phone calls and faxes, Dr. Thomas McGill, vice president of quality and safety at BHS, said in a prepared statement.

As part of a $1 billion bid to become an integrated health care system, insurer Highmark Inc. is also building a health information exchange, which will also likely require financial support by western Pennsylvania hospitals.

ClinicalConnect is expected to be among the biggest such systems in the state, with more than 7 million patient records, according to UPMC. The electronic backbone will benefit patients by reducing unnecessary testing, delays and costs and increasing the use of preventive care and chronic illness management programs.