Now that hospitals across the region have digitized many of their health records, a new round of federal grants aims to get Pennsylvania hospitals to share information with each other.
The state awarded $1.5 million to a collaborative called HealthShare of Southeastern Pennsylvania. Planners will build the digital highway and encourage area health providers to join the health information exchange.
Curt Schroder is regional executive of the Delaware Valley Healthcare Council, one of the HealthShare partners.
“We will have regional exchange in this area, eventually though, the commonwealth will establish the community shared services layer, and that will hook up the different regions with in the state,” Schroder said.
Public health experts say statewide exchanges help officials track the spread of infectious disease and monitor vaccine rates.
Schroder says there are also individual health benefits.
“When a patient is discharged from a hospital, they very well might, if they have to return to a hospital, be in a completely different health system,” he said.
Robert Torres, Pennsylvania’s Health Information Technology coordinator, said some doctor’s offices already share information with affiliated hospitals, but those networks rarely extend beyond county lines.
Much of the $1.5 million in startup funds granted to HealthShare will flow back to Pennsylvania to help fund the state-level effort.