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E-records network growing in state

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — About half of New Mexico hospitals now participate in a statewide electronic records network intended to better coordinate patient care among medical systems, officials said Tuesday at a telehealth summit.

The network could one day offer patients online access to their own medical records no matter where they receive care, said Dr. Dale Alverson, director of the University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center for Telehealth and Cybermedicine Research.

The state launched the online system in March under a contract with New Zealand-based Orion Health.

“It helps providers better coordinate the care of the patient,” Alverson said of the health information exchange.

Emergency department physicians in particular have been eager to use the technology because it can give them access to diagnostic and lab tests for patients transferred from other hospitals, he said.

It also provides secure access to information about a patient’s medical history, such as previous emergency and clinic visits, medications, allergies and immunizations.

“It’s better for the patient,” Alverson said. “Their care is better-coordinated because we’re sharing their information across many provider organizations, so you are not duplicating tests.”

Alverson made the comments at a telehealth summit at the UNM Cancer Center sponsored by the New Mexico Department of Health.

The database contains health information for an estimated 1.5 million New Mexicans, although the amount of data available varies widely by patient, Alverson said.

The state has collected data since January 2013 from some of the New Mexico’s largest health care organizations, including Presbyterian Healthcare Services, Lovelace Health System, UNM Hospitals and TriCore Reference Laboratories.

The system has the capability to offer a patient portal that would allow the public to access its own records, said Thomas East, CEO of LFC Research, an information technology firm hired to oversee the health information network.

Managers plan to gauge demand for a public portal and determine costs, East said.

The priority today is to get rural hospitals and medical clinics connected to the network, East said. At least eight additional hospitals are expected to join the network this year, he said.

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