North Jersey hospitals are planning to share patient medical records electronically. It has been a long-anticipated move that should lower costs and improve patient care.
Nine hospitals, including St. Joseph’s Regional Medical Center in Paterson and St. Joseph’s Hospital in Wayne, Meadowlands Hospital Medical Center in Secaucus, have joined a network that will be the first in the state of New Jersey to share records. Their system will go live later this month. Hackensack University Medical Center and Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck are among eighteen of the NJ hospitals who have joined another exchange that expects to begin sharing electronic medical records by April.
More than two million patient records in the network have been computerized and will be available. Records such test results, immunization, prescription records and other vital stats and health information can now be shared among the hospitals as well as with private physicians. It will save a lot of time and paperwork when patients come for their follow-up visits.
Meadowlands Hospital president and CEO Tom Gregorio said at a press conference at the Secaucus Hospital last Tuesday that providing instant access to medical records “will revolutionize patient care.’’
The push for electronic medical records has surged since federal health care reform created incentives for hospitals and physicians to convert to paperless practices and e-prescribing.
The program, called Highlander (formerly known as Health-e-cITi-NJ), connects greater Newark area providers, is one of six health information exchanges in New Jersey. According to the overview statement on the program’s website, “[the program] is being created for the purpose of improving quality and coordination of care; improving measurable outcomes and facilitating the exchange of healthcare information, while reducing costs of care by reducing duplicity of services for the residents and access to important information for the residents of the city of Newark, a significant portion of which are un or underinsured, and its surrounding areas. This will tangibly improve care to the significant Medicaid eligible population served by the participating entities and providers. ”