Michigan Merger Creates One Of USA's Biggest Health Info Exchanges

EAST LANSING — Two major Michigan health information exchanges have merged, giving hospitals, doctors and other medical professionals fast and secure access to the health records of more than five million people.

Michigan Health Connect and the Great Lakes Health Information Exchange are now Great Lakes Health Connect.

Doug Dietzman, executive director of the new organization and former executive director of Michigan Health Connect, said both offices of the former HIEs would remain open — Michigan Health Connect’s former office in Grand Rapids and Great Lakes Health Information Exchange in East Lansing. Dietzman said he would split his time between the two offices. The combined HIE will employ 30 full-time-equivalent workers, he added.

Participants of the newly merged organization cover more than 80 percent of the hospital beds in the state and include more than 20,000 independent and employed providers serving more than half the state’s population — more people than any other HIE in the state and more than most in the country.

“Michigan Health Connect and the Great Lakes Health Information Exchange recognized that our missions were essentially the same and that we could better achieve our vision for a healthier Michigan together, rather than independently,” said Brian McCardel, M.D., a Lansing orthopedic surgeon who chaired the Great Lakes Health Information Exchange board of directors.

Great Lakes Health Connect allows hospitals and physicians to access a patient’s health history across many different providers, including laboratories, allowing ready access to vital information and eliminating the need to rely on patient memory. This improves the speed and quality of care provided.

Great Lakes Health Connect also provides real-time notification to providers for admissions and discharges from hospitals to nursing homes and other providers, to make sure complete patient information is transferred and the risk of readmission is lowered. The exchange of electronic health records is also key to the success of hospitals and other medical providers under national health care reform.

Added Patrick O’Hare, senior vice president and CIO at Spectrum Health in Grand Rapids, who chaired the Michigan Health Connect board: “We look forward to advancing an integrated platform of services across the state and making Michigan a leader in the nationwide move to health information exchange and improved health status.”

For more information about Great Lakes Health Connect, visit www.gl-hc.org.


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