Have you heard of health information technology or electronic health records? These terms are becoming more and more common, and as you may have guessed they describe the use of technology to improve health care. Technology has always been integral to the advancement of the health care field, but increasingly computers and the use of the internet have become vital in providing more efficient and effective health care. One of the San Francisco Community Clinic Consortium’s technology based initiatives has been participation in HealthShare Bay Area (HSBA).
HSBA is a Health information Exchange (HIE) for the Bay Area region. An HIE is a system in which health care related data can be transmitted across health care organizations according to national standards. The goal of HSBA is “to provide a secure, controlled, and interoperable method for exchanging patient health information between providers of care in San Francisco...to improve efficiency of healthcare delivery, decrease costs, and ultimately improve patient care within San Francisco.”
In 2009 what came to be HSBA was formed between a group representing all the major San Francisco health care stakeholders, with consumers (patients) at the table as well as including complimentary medicine practitioners (such as acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine). SFCCC has been participating from that early beginning, representing our patients and partners, and since the official kick off in March of 2010, has been on the HSBA Governing Board.
While originally focusing on building an exchange just for San Francisco, HSBA has recently been working to expand our coalition to include stakeholders from Alameda, Contra Costa, and San Mateo Counties. Over the past year we have narrowed down the field of potential technology vendors from 16 down to a handful. Last week we received demonstrations from a few and we hope to solidify a contract with the best one for the Bay Area by the end of 2011. Once in place, patients, as well as providers and hospitals (both those with and without electronic health records), across the Bay Area, will immediately benefit from the improved communication that HSBA provides, with an end result of a safer, more efficient health care system.
For further information about HealthShare Bay Area please click here.