A new Wellpath alliance with the Morehouse School of Medicine and the HI-BRIDGE Health Information Exchange will share real-time correctional patient health information to improve inmate patient care delivery across 70 Georgia corrections facilities through Wellpath’s Electronic Records Management Application (ERMA).
WHY IT MATTERS
A regional information exchange established through the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine and connected to the Georgia Health Information Network, HI-BRIDGE HIE supports care coordination and optimal health outcomes by improving access to health information.
The data includes medication history, prior diagnoses, allergies and lab reports from any one of the many contributing sources.
“Health Information Exchanges are an important component in the delivery of quality healthcare, and we believe our patients are best served when we provide them with the most informed care possible,” said Jorge Dominicis, plastics in medicine CEO of Wellpath, in the announcement.
ERMA’s bi-directional data flow will also enable any clinical services provided by Wellpath to be added to correctional patient electronic health records and shared with other local and national healthcare providers and organizations when the patient seeks medical care following release.
“When one of our healthcare professionals meets a patient for the first time and immediately has access to the patient’s entire medical history, that patient can receive optimal care, and that is always our goal,” he said.
Nashville-based Wellpath, a medical and mental healthcare service provider serving vulnerable patients in challenging clinical environments across 36 states and in Australia, previously connected the HI-BRIDGE HIE to exchange patient health information with a network of local county jails.
“Communication is crucial as it relates to healthcare delivery in our facilities and incorporating this model will help ensure information is being shared efficiently and in real-time,” said Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Timothy Ward.
Also, through a health equity certificate program with Morehouse School of Medicine, Wellpath clinicians can help address social determinants of health for justice-involved individuals and encourage resources to eliminate barriers to care.
“This special relationship in education between Wellpath and Morehouse began in November 2021 when the two organizations recognized the need for medical programs focused on incarcerated patients,” added Dr. Dominic Mack, MBA, HI-BRIDGE HIE executive medical director, National Center for Primary Care director and Morehouse School of Medicine faculty member for family medicine.
THE LARGER TREND
Colorado law changed in 2017 mandated enhancing medical care in county and municipal jails and partnership with HIEs to provide jails with access to clinical data, making it a model nationwide for the exchange of justice-involved patient health information.
“Providers didn’t know which medications they were taking or what conditions they were presenting with. (They) didn’t know the proper medications or the dosage. There was a lack of standardized screening, and no standard way to share information,” explained Kate Horle, chief operating officer of the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization during her HIMSS20 digital presentation.
Pilot testing quickly showed positive results including better care coordination, improved health outcomes and better health when transitioning back to the community–as well as enhanced transparency and reduced psychotropic medication costs for county jails.
Because prison facilities are increasingly becoming front-line intake for people experiencing mental health crises, how an inmate receives mental health treatment while in custody also directly affects both the quality and the cost of their care once released, Danielle Culp, Office of Behavioral Health IT exchange coordinator, told Healthcare IT News in 2020.
Fast and comprehensive access to patient data provides tremendous advantages for the continuity of mental healthcare.
For example, should a patient with a mental health issue end up in Denver County Jail, “Clinicians are able to see your longitudinal record, know your mental health history and replicate that treatment while you are in care,” she said.
ON THE RECORD
“This is a unique model of data exchange partners covering public, private and academic experts,” said Carmen Hughes, MBA, HI-BRIDGE HIE executive director in the announcement.
“Through the partnership, Wellpath clinicians will have patient clinical records at the point of care or in a healthcare crisis; this is critical for continuity of patient care,” she said.
Andrea Fox is senior editor of Healthcare IT News.
Email: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.
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