Health Information technology (HIT) is a statewide project and considered a critical component for improving the quality of health care, reducing gaps in care, improving health outcomes, and reducing costs. HIT improves communication and information sharing, making it a significant tool for addressing the needs of individuals, families, and populations.
Among Region 7 Integrated Delivery Network (IDN), health care provider organizations are using different Electronic Medical Record (EMRs) platforms. This creates a challenge when trying to design a system that coordinates care across the regional system. Some electronic systems are unable to document and track screenings of all types that should be incorporated into the standard medical record to provide important information to other providers.
Health records maintained by community-based organizations and schools that do not have EHRs often do not contain complete information from practitioners, which can have a negative impact on patients/clients. Many community-based organizations do not have secure systems to receive and/or send personal health information, which means there is no ability to exchange information or to use the information that has been exchanged. Lacking shared information among providers and community-based organizations causes an additional gap. Organizations that have not billed Medicaid or any other insurance carrier may also lack the capacity to take on data collection, monitoring, and reporting.
Development of the HIT infrastructure, regardless of how it is designed, is going to require that providers, patients, stakeholders, and communities are informed and educated about its importance.
Representatives for the Region 7 IDN are participating in the Statewide HIT Taskforce that is responsible for developing recommendations for a statewide HIT infrastructure. They intend to bring the unique voice of the North Country to the Statewide Taskforce and provide a rural perspective as part of the discussion. Unlike some other parts of the state, Region 7 members are spread out over a large geographic area, with some parts of the region without reliable internet and cell service, which poses some technology barriers.