San Antonio area hospital systems begin sharing medical records electronically

Healthcare Access San Antonio puts together Health Information Exchange

San Antonio's local hospitals unveiled a new system for sharing patient medical records electronically on Tuesday.

Officials from Healthcare Access San Antonio (HASA) spoke Tuesday at the Children's Hospital about the new Health Information Exchange (HIE), which connects five of the six major hospitals in San Antonio.

The HIE allows health care providers to more easily access patient health records for more than 600,000 individual patients.

For families who are in and out of the hospital and who often act as the "gatekeepers" of important health information, recording this health information electronically can be incredibly time-saving.

It's something DD Belair can attest to, as a mother with a daughter who has giant nevus, a potentially dangerous skin condition.

"She at one time saw six physicians all over San Antonio, all needing all the information that was generated by the last place I went to," said Belair. "It was quite overwhelming to keep track of all that information and glean it out to the doctors who needed it."

Belair used to carry all of that information in a binder full of reports, scans, and digital images. But thanks to the new HIE, there's no need to lug around piles of records.

"Beginning today, patients can know that their information is available when they need it, and will only be viewable as they, themselves, decide," said Patrick Carrier, the president and CEO of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System.

"By accessing this database, one could pull up any numbers of things, regarding their patient of interest, from medication to past medical history, significant history, also any recent labs or imaging that may have been done, at a certain time period that would be important to us," said Dr. Vanessa Hill, the chief medical officer of the Children's Hospital of San Antonio.

Healthcare officials say it is something that will improve care across the board.

"The benefit of knowing what tests have already been done for patients coming into our system, so that we don't repeat them," said Geoff Crabtree, a senior vice president of the Methodist Healthcare system. "(It's) knowing where they already have been treated and what medications they are taking is paramount importance to both the health provider and the patient."

Officials from HASA want the public to know, first and foremost, the information sharing system is built to ensure privacy and security of the patient's record. Meanwhile,

  • The data is secure, encrypted, both as rest and in transit, and meets all federal and state requirements for privacy and security.
  • Patients have the option to not have their medical records transferred and can opt out of the system.
  • Proper oversight and audit procedures are in place to ensure the system is secure and private.

Patients interested in preregistering can go to http://www.hasatx.org. The HIE for patients is expected to go live in early 2014.

The following health systems are participating in the HIE: