Mason Facilitates Effort to Improve Access to Personal Health Records

Posted: February 22, 2008 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Catherine Ferraro

Over the last 24 months, Mason has facilitated the activities of the Northern Virginia Regional Health Information Organization (NOVARHIO), an independent corporation whose goal is to improve the health of those who live and work in Northern Virginia.

Mason continues to support this organization as it gathers information, collaborates and addresses the need and options for local and regional health information exchange.

Recently, NOVARHIO, along with Inova Health Systems and Erickson Retirement Communities, received a $150,000 technology grant from the Commonwealth of Virginia. Aimed at creating high quality health care for Virginians, the grant program was initiated by Gov. Timothy Kaine last year through the Virginia Department of Health and funded by the General Assembly.

The grant will facilitate authorized sharing of medication information at a local hospital emergency department. The pilot project, also supported by GE Healthcare, will help in the journey toward expanded electronic health information exchange in Northern Virginia.

One goal of the grant is to allow patients to create and save their individual medical profiles, called “files-of-life,” on their computers or as a hard copy in their home. The information would be instantly accessible by authorized emergency workers and for use by authorized safety net facilities such as free clinics, area community health centers and advocacy groups that often lack such information during emergencies and even during routine health care visits. Greenspring Village, a retirement community, will integrate this “file-of-life” into their electronic and personal health record efforts.

Another goal of the pilot project will be to make both safety net and commercial medication record information available at the emergency departments of local hospitals when authorized by patients. Inova Alexandria Hospital’s emergency department will be the first to participate.

“Our hope is that with this grant people will understand the importance of accessible health and medical information for authorized health care providers, particularly in emergency situations,” says Jane Woods, Mason’s liaison for state health policy and community development. “Whether a person is going to a routine doctor’s visit or to an emergency room, having the information available immediately can be efficient and even life saving.”

NOVARHIO will simultaneously launch a program to educate citizens in Northern Virginia about the need for personal health records and the power of electronic health records.

For more information on NOVARHIO, contact Janet Palmisano at 703-993-1857 or jpalmisa@gmu.edu.

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