Partnering with Great Lakes Health Connect, Lakeland Health System, based in St. Joseph, Michigan, is the first hospital organization in Michigan to query patient immunization records held within the Michigan Care Improvement Registry (MCIR) directly from their internal electronic medical record (EMR).
In 1996, the Michigan Legislature established a “childhood immunization registry” to be used as a comprehensive central repository for all children’s immunization records across the state. In 2006, the registry was expanded to include immunization records for citizens off all ages. Licensed healthcare providers are required to report immunization information to MCIR, and it is then made available to healthcare providers, schools, licensed childcare programs, and Michigan’s citizens to inform care, reduce preventable disease, and lower instances of over-vaccination. Records contained in the MCIR database are accessible to registered users with appropriate credentials via a secure website portal.
Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC), a Grand Rapids, Mich.-based provider of health information exchange services, has facilitated the electronic transport of immunization records to MCIR as a basic service to their participating providers for several years. GLHC has now given providers the ability to query a patient’s immunization records through their native electronic medical record environment.
According to Julie Klausing, GLHC senior director of program and technical operations, “Our clients expressed a strong desire to stay within their own EMR systems rather than jumping around logging in and out of multiple applications. A provider’s workflow functions more effectively when they are able to access the information they need from within their own system.”
According to GLHC, Lakeland Health became the first hospital system in the state to implement this more efficient workflow access to MCIR. Lakeland Health is comprised of three hospitals, an outpatient surgery center, a regional cancer center, rehabilitation centers, 2 long-term care residences, home care and hospice services, and 34 affiliate physician practice locations. The health system has 500 specialty and primary care providers.
Kenneth O’Neill, M.D., Lakeland’s vice president of clinical integration, said in a prepared statement, “Lakeland Health is highly focused on a ‘speed to value’ approach to achieving Triple Aim goals [enhanced patient care, improved outcomes, and reduced costs] on behalf of our patients. While we don’t see ourselves as technology pioneers, given our long relationship with GLHC, combined with the promise of easier access to the state immunization registry, early adoption of this patient centric technology made great sense to us.”
To illustrate the value of more efficient access to immunization records, Dr. O’Neill offered this example: “The Center for Disease Control recommends that adults over the age of 65 receive an annual vaccine to protect against Pneumonia. There are two competing vaccines in this class, but they cannot be administered within twelve months of each other. A patient may remember whether or not they have had a Pneumonia vaccine in the past, but they are not likely to know which one they were given. If this information doesn’t already reside in their electronic health record, the information can be found in the state repository. Prior to having the ability to query MCIR through our electronic medical record system, a provider would have to exit the EMR, launch a separate browser to get to the MCIR website, log into the database, search for the necessary information, then copy and paste it into the patient’s record back in our EMR system. This may seem like a relatively minor issue, but it interrupts the interaction with the patient at the point of care. Multiplied across many patients that can add up to significant wastes of time. GLHC’s Immunization Query functionality allows more time and greater attention to be focused on patient care. That, to me, is a home run,” O’Neill said in a prepared statement.
Doug Dietzman, executive director of GLHC, stated, “Here at GLHC, we pride ourselves on solving real problems for our provider partners that have a direct and positive impact on the quality of the care they deliver. Our expanded capability with Immunization Query is a great example of this commitment. We are grateful for collaborators like Lakeland Health, and look forward to continuing to demonstrate the value of Health Information Exchange for our stakeholders across Michigan.”
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