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Froedtert & Community Health
is the second hospital organization in the nation and the first in the Midwest to join a new network that lets disparate healthcare providers share medical records. Called Care Everywhere
, the network enables the electronic exchange of medical information over the Internet in seconds, giving physicians the information they need to immediately begin treating a patient.
According to Epic Systems
of Verona, Wisconsin, developer of the application, Care Eveywhere provides a framework for interoperability, so that wherever the patient goes - whether between healthcare systems in the same town or across state and national borders - the clinicians caring for her can have the information they need. Information can come from another Epic system, a non-Epic electronic medical record
(EMR) that complies with industry standards, or directly from the patient.
The Care Everywhere network is a nationwide information exchange among separate Epic electronic medical records systems. The three hospitals that make up Froedtert & Community Health
St. Joseph's, Community Memorial Hospital in Menomonee Falls
, and Froedtert
as well as the West Bend Clinic
all use the Epic system to manage electronic medical records, but as is typical throughout the healthcare industry, the systems are configured differently so they can't exchange information. The Care Everywhere network bridges the gap.
Care Everywhere solves a major problem in the transition to electronic health records by creating a pathway for separate organizations to exchange information, said Rick Gillis, MD, medical director of health information for Froedtert Hospital and associate dean for clinical informatics at the Medical College of Wisconsin
. Until now, hospitals and clinics had to be on the same computer system, configured exactly the same way, to share information. Care Everywhere creates a bridge between systems, enabling doctors to quickly see a patient's medical history, previous diagnoses, lab tests, medications, allergies, physician's notesthe crucial information they need to provide timely, appropriate care.
Gillis said the Care Everywhere upgrade cost about $60,000 and was accomplished in about six weeks. Building a new system would have cost millions and taken at least a year, he said. Now, as more West Bend patients are being seen by Medical College of Wisconsin
doctors, Care Everywhere helps ensure they receive coordinated, cost-effective care.
According to Epic Systems, its customers include many of the nation's largest healthcare providers, representing some 70 million patients' medical information. The Care Everywhere network is a means of linking these organizations without having to invest in rebuilding computer systems.
Care Everywhere a big step toward tying healthcare information systems together for better care, Gillis said. Our experience shows it can be done quickly and affordably.