In The Know

The Importance of Connected Healthcare

Dr. Jack Lacey, Chief Medical Officer
University of Tennessee Medical Center

As a practicing physician, access to the most complete patient data possible in real time is key. This helps me make the best decisions with my patients and gives them the best care outcomes. A connected, informed healthcare system is safer, more effective, and less costly overall than any other way of providing patient care. The only way to truly fulfill patient needs is by sharing data and giving all providers access to the same clinical data so they can be more fully informed and treat their patients to the best of their ability.

We are fortunate in this region to have an organization, the East Tennessee Health Information Network (etHIN), which would be considered impossible in many other areas. The local hospitals (UTMC, Covenant, Children’s and Blount Memorial) put aside competitive issues and came together for something they believe is important for patient well-being, which is community-wide information sharing through etHIN. etHIN is not only compliant with HIPAA laws and uses best-of-breed data security techniques and monitoring, but it is also helping providers make patient decisions every day on all aspects of care with shared clinical data.

Ultimately, we need to connect ALL aspects of care through etHIN – home health, pharmacies, social service, public health agencies, and others – so that all sources of patient information are available to the doctors at the time decisions are being made.

By connecting the healthcare providers with social services and other community agencies that provide non-medical health-related services, we can have an effect on the entire community care management function. If we do, we will be able to remarkably enhance healthcare outcomes and reduce healthcare costs.

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