MAeHC announced today that we have had 25,000 patients consent to having their data exchanged over the health information exchange in North Adams. This is a terrific achievement as it represents a high opt-in rate (94% of those asked) and a large fraction of the entire North Adams community (in the one year since go-live, we've reached over half of the roughly 40,000 people who live in the North Adams cachement area).
As I said in the press release, this is really a testament to the many individuals who have worked with us in that community to deploy a system that offers clinical benefit while at the same time engendering the trust of patients and providers alike. Administrative information for patients, including privacy and security policies, are available on the Northern Berkshire eHealth Collaborative website.
We're not done though -- far from it. In the next couple of months we'll be launching a patient portal in the community that will allow patients visibility into the eHX so that they can view certain parts of their records from all of the participating physicians and the hospital. We'll also launch electronic ordering as well, to complement the automated lab and radiology results delivery that is already in place across the community.
Adoption of these systems takes time because it takes a lot of effort to work out all the kinks in the systems and because it takes time for physicians to incorporate this new information into their workflows. That said, the Emergency Department is reporting a roughly 50% "hit rate" on queries to the eHX, meaning that roughly one-half of all of the encounters in the ED are now informed by clinical information that would probably not have been available before. It will take some time to quantify the benefits of this, but there should be no doubt that the quality and safety of care has improved in North Adams, even if we don't yet have the data to show it.