Montana health information exchange to launch later in year

BILLINGS, Mont. (AP) — Montana Gov. Steve Bullock and a healthcare nonprofit announced a statewide health information exchange system that will launch later in the year.

Bullock designated Big Sky Care Connect for the project in 2019. The partnership will allow health care providers to share and have easy access to patient data. Montana is just one of two states in the country that does not currently have a health information exchange system, the Billings Gazette reported.

“By sharing data, providers will be able to ensure that they’re informed about their patients’ status as they seek different services to promote patient safety and outcomes,” Bullock said Thursday.

Big Sky Care Connect says its services can help decrease medication errors, reduce readmission rates and diminish the cost of health care.

Yellowstone County Health Officer John Felton said being able to access relevant information without delay will substantially increase medical response efficiency. It will also help dramatically with the coronavirus, according to Randy Thompson, chief health analyst officer at Billings Clinic. Health care providers will be able to access health information immediately, like preexisting conditions that may put a person at greater risk for complications from the coronavirus.

Currently, there is no efficient way to transfer coronavirus data from system to system.

The health information exchange has 20 participants across the state, including hospitals, long-term care facilities, clinics and behavioral health facilities.

Part of the funding for the project came from a $19 million grant the state received from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services in 2019.

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