Missouri opens data exchange 'freeway'

Missouri Health Connection links 62 hospitals, 350 clinics
By Mike Miliard
10:56 AM

Following three years of infrastructure building, Missouri Health Connection, the Show-Me State's health information exchange, opened for business on Wednesday, enabling statewide access to patient data for 7,000 physicians.

"MHC has essentially built the freeway that Missouri healthcare providers will use to access the vital information needed to make medical decisions," said Mary Kasal, the exchange's chief executive officer, in a news release. "MHC's grand opening signifies that the onramps are open and ready for the state's healthcare providers to join our network and begin their journey toward collaborative and more cost-effective healthcare."

MHC officials say the exchange will pave the way for collaboration among healthcare providers to improve care quality, boost patient satisfaction and reduce costs, offering physicians a comprehensive view of patient medical histories and helping MHC fulfill its mission to improve the health of all Missourians.

The exchange will provide services to more than 45 percent of the inpatient care provided in Missouri, 62 hospitals and more than 350 clinics, enabling more than 7,000 physicians to securely access the health information of their patients in Missouri and neighboring states.

MHC is Missouri's state-designated entity tasked with creating and managing the infrastructure to connect healthcare providers in Missouri and neighboring states with their patients via a secure health information network, officials say. The connectivity services provided by MHC are designed to support all healthcare provider organizations, from the largest multi-hospital health system, to a solo physician practice.

In contrast with some health information networks that limit connectivity and services by requiring the use of software from a specific vendor, MHC offers the ability to connect with all certified EHR systems, officials say.

That vendor-neutral approach connects an array of users and applications, increasing the volume and value of information within the network while making truly comprehensive electronic health records possible. The software enables that interoperability and the sharing of data across multiple systems and organizations.

"Missouri Health Connection is a national leader in health information exchange," said Paul Grabscheid, vice president of strategic planning at InterSystems. "We look forward to supporting MHC as it reaches new milestones in connected healthcare."

Some hallmarks of the MHC, according to officials:

  • Electronic notifications alert physicians about important events, such as when their patients are admitted to the hospital or may need care in an out-of-town emergency;
  • Continuity of care documents can be securely exchanged between providers to reduce redundant medical tests and to ensure that patients receive the appropriate care;
  • The exchange processes more than 250,000 electronic transactions per day to help providers boost efficiencies and improve care.

"We at St. Louis Children's Hospital are honored to participate and contribute to MHC's effort. It complements the framework that we put in place to achieve interoperability," said Feliciano Yu, Jr., MD, chief medical information officer at St. Louis Children's Hospital. "Now we have the right health IT foundation to coordinate the care for our patients and collaborate with other care providers in a way that ensures the highest quality and patient safety."

[See also: Missouri Health Connection signs up first 5 for HIE]


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