New Statewide Health Information Exchange Connects LA Doctors To Patient Data

About the author: Rand Ragusa is co-founder and SVP of Business Development of Better Day™ Health, which is transforming clinical documentation and EHR workflow for providers.

Like most states, Louisiana has tried and failed over the past decade to build a government-run statewide health information exchange (HIE) that would enable more seamless sharing of patients’ health data between their doctors and other providers. Among the most significant reasons why HIEs have not worked is the absence of the physician voice in the design and development of exchanges.  

The Louisiana State Medical Society, which represents physicians, recently launched HealthSYNC of Louisiana (HealthSYNC), the first physician-led HIE to enter this market. HealthSYNC allows doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health care providers and patients across Louisiana to appropriately access and share a patient’s vital medical data electronically.

HealthSYNC is designed to improve the quality, safety and cost of care. “Participating physicians will be able to access patients’ medical information from any location, to reduce duplicative testing, and ultimately improve delivery of patient care,” explained Jeff Williams, CEO at Louisiana State Medical Society.

“From the patient perspective, and most importantly,” he added, “HealthSYNC of Louisiana will provide the right health information in the right place at the right time, to support the patient-physician relationship which is key to providing quality medical care.”

Representing a membership of over 6,000 physicians, residents, and medical school students from 42 parish component societies, the Louisiana State Medical Society partnered with KAMMCO to duplicate their physician-led HIE network created for the Kansas Medical Society. Considered one of the most successful HIE models in the country, Kansas Health Information Network launched in 2012 and now counts nearly all of the state’s 126 hospitals and three-quarters of its physician practices as contributors.

Laura McCrary, KAMMCO senior vice president, says governance is crucial to an HIE’s long-term prospects. “A statewide exchange like HealthSYNC of Louisiana needs the trust of the provider community,” she said, adding that providers are more likely to trust data exchanges run by state medical societies managed by doctors for doctors.

In Lake Charles, Dr. John Noble Jr. of Imperial Health Center for Orthopaedics believes the new HIE model will have a profound influence on the way doctors search for and use patient data in Southwest Louisiana and across the state. “Healthcare practices waste an inordinate amount of resources trying to acquire historical information regarding patients. Now that HealthSYNC of Louisiana is operational, practices will become much more efficient due to the ease of the transfer of information. For the most part, practitioners need information that is generated in a parish or two away, but if systems cannot talk to each other it doesn’t matter how far away they are. This exchange of timely information is something we have needed for the last decade, and I am relieved that we now have a solution.”

Despite increasing consolidation in the healthcare sector, doctors and other providers remain as desperate as ever for a statewide network to securely share patient data. HealthSYNC has a unique opportunity to solve the most challenging issues facing patients today – the ability for all of their doctors to easily access, enter and share their health information with their other doctors, clinics and hospitals.

Upcoming HealthSYNC of Louisiana presentation events in the New Orleans area include: