The North Ottawa Community Health System recently joined Michigan Health Connect, a health information exchange provider that presently connects 57 hospitals, 1,551 medical offices and more than 7,000 individual health care providers throughout the state.
Jen VanSkiver, spokeswoman for the North Ottawa Community Health System, said the initiative will increase efficiency and security, and relieve stress for patients who see more than one physician and oftentimes will need to repeat information.
“This is definitely an improvement,” she said.
Prior to using Michigan Health Connect, test results sent to a physician's office would be placed into a paper file or scanned into an electronic medical record.
VanSkiver said Michigan Health Connect is a more efficient mode of transmitting such information.
“It means doctors will get results almost instantaneously,” said Joe Abbott, director of information systems for the North Ottawa Community Health System.
The first phase of the new service will allow test results and medical records from hospitals be sent to primary care physicians. Abbott said they plan to have that up and running in the spring.
The next step would allow physicians to send orders — such as requesting patients have laboratory tests or other services completed — to the hospital.
Down the road, another step in the process includes a virtual patient record service that would allow a patient’s entire medical history to be accessed by any Michigan Health Connect member.
Although the information will be available electronically, Abbott said the system is safe and provides confidentiality by requiring authenticating user log-ins in a secure site.
“Security is an underlying principle concern,” he assured.