Area hospitals share medical records electronically

(Lia Sestric/WCIV)

By Lia

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) - The Carolina eHealth Alliance (CeHA) announced Tuesday that 11 emergency departments of all major Charleston-area hospitals are now connected to a patient electronic record exchange.

"It has meant already life and death differences," Dr. Anc Clarkson, of Roper Hospital said.

The program enables different hospitals to share a patient's information just by logging onto the program that is now part of these emergency departments' computers.

"We are able to use this to access all of their prior records within our system," Clarkson said. "Now we have access to all those test results and it's eliminating a lot of wasteful redundancy."

Dr. Ray Greenberg, President of MUSC and chairman of CeHA says it's helping hospitals better communicate.

"In healthcare today, the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing," he said. "So many patients have different providers and miscommunication and lack of communication is a healthcare concern and safety issue."

At the announcement, Alliance members shared details from an on-going clinical study analyzing the program. The study showed savings in patient's wait time and one of the larger hospital's emergency rooms could save nearly $1 million.

"What it compellingly showed us was there was real time savings but even more importantly real money savings," Greenberg said. "Most of the savings came from reducing the number of radiology studies that are taken, which were unnecessary because either other studies have been done or other information made it unimportant to get that particular test."

The program has plans to grow, with the Naval Health Clinic, Charleston, coming online in May and the Ralph H. Johnson VA Medical Center to follow this summer.

The program will also eventually expand to primary care. It is being paid for by the remaining balance of the Duke Endowment.

"The money that remains is to really expand our reach from the hospital setting out to the primary care environment. What we really want to do is make sure the communication which is good now between the hospitals is taking place with patients' ongoing medical care," Dr. Greenberg said.