Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC), Michigan’s health information exchange, and partners across the region and state this week announced a $250,000 investment to build up information exchange in the Genesee County region. This initiative is designed to help address and mitigate the longer term health effects and needs that may arise after lead exposure related to the Flint water crisis.
The Flint, Michigan community is dealing with a drinking water contamination crisis due to lead contamination that stems from the city changing its water source back in 2014.
In a press release, GLHC said the investment is in collaboration with the Greater Flint Health Coalition and the healthcare community throughout Flint and Genesee County to build up the region’s health IT infrastructure, “which is essential to the most timely, accurate and secure exchange of medical data, diagnosis and treatment.” The initiative aims to help the community provide detailed care coordination for Flint and Genesee County families and continuity of care for children exposed to lead in the city’s contaminated water.
The investment is targeted at meeting the special needs of the Flint water crisis and aimed at connecting all Genesee County healthcare providers to GLHC’s statewide health information exchange network. “Establishing this technological connectivity will enable healthcare providers with enhanced communication to facilitate the long-term care coordination for more than 420,000 Genesee County residents,” the organization stated.
“The goal of the Great Lakes Health Connect Board of Directors is to give those responding to the healthcare needs of Flint’s residents the tools needed to coordinate care and positively impact the health and wellbeing of Flint’s citizens over the long term,” Tom Bres, board chair for GLHC said in a statement. “This integrated network of providers holds the potential for establishing the greater Flint region as the benchmark model for a care-connected community in the United States – a virtual environment where information can be shared quickly among healthcare providers, leading to more effective, efficient healthcare services.”
The $250,000 investment made by GLHC consists of $100,000 earmarked for a community interface grant that will cover costs associated with linking more than 40 physician offices county-wide, $90,000 for a dedicated implementation consultant to coordinate the initiative at the local level and $50,000 to build out an analytics engine enabling the shared communications and detailed data analysis that will be needed for decades to come, according to the GLHC press release.
And, a $10,000 education grant will help facilitate training for all entities being connected.
Larry Reynolds, M.D., president & CEO of Mott Children’s Health Center said. “As healthcare providers, we will persevere in providing those we serve with the education, testing and treatment they may need now and over the years to come.”
Eden Wells, M.D., the state’s Chief Medical Executive, said in a statement, “The State of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services believe collaborating with public and private partners is critically important as we assist children and families in Flint affected by the water emergency. The efforts and generous financial contribution from Great Lakes Health Connect and partnerships like this with the Greater Flint Health Coalition and health care providers will enhance care coordination so families have access to more timely diagnosis and treatment.”
The GLHC registries and solutions are accessed by more than 4,000 provider offices and 128 Michigan hospitals representing 100 percent of hospitals in Genesee County and 85 percent of the acute care beds in the state.