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Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield has awarded $817,000 to the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership to help south Arkansas hospitals and clinics improve how they exchange patient information and ensure better continuity of care during patient transfers.
The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership is a nonprofit with 14 hospital members and 108 hospital-owned or affiliated clinics in the southern region of the state. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences supports and works with the partnership on professional health education and public health issues.
While some of the partnership’s hospitals and their clinics participate in the State Health Alliance for Records Exchange (SHARE), which is overseen by the Office of Health Information Technology (a division of the Arkansas Department of Health), none of them have been able to fully participate in the exchange because of the high costs of full membership.
Several member hospitals are participating, but at the minimal level, and three member hospitals are not sharing data at all.
The one-year grant will help them participate at the highest level. In addition, SHARE will provide ARHP hospitals and health care providers with real-time patient results that will help them identify clinical strengths and areas that might need improvement.
SHARE’s daily reports will make available to ARHP health care providers a 24-hour snapshot of critical events, such as emergency room visits and inpatient discharges.
SHARE also lets users transmit and exchange clinical information such as clinical care summaries, vital signs, medications, allergies, continuity of care documents, transitions of care documents, immunization records, laboratory results, radiology report transcriptions and discharge summaries.
“It is imperative our member hospitals be fully prepared for value-based care,” said Mellie Bridewell, ARHP CEO and a UAMS regional director of strategy, management and administration, in a news release. “They must be able to share and have access to patient data as well as have the support of a system that can assist them with compiling and collecting the data to use in treating their patients. Without this assistance, our small rural hospitals will not be able to financially survive the changes ahead.”
The Arkansas Blue Cross grant will pay for the costs of upgrading equipment and annual dues for ARHP member hospitals and clinics to participate fully in the exchange. There is no other funding mechanism to assist rural hospitals and clinics with the annual costs of participating in SHARE, the organizations said.