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New Partnership to Create HIE for Undeserved Children

July 17, 2013
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Children's Care Alliance (CCA) is working with Alere Accountable Care Solutions (ACS)—a Waltham, Mass.-based health information solutions provider—to create a health information exchange (HIE) for underserved children in the Lehigh Valley area of northeastern Pennsylvania.

Backed by the support of the business community, the HIE represents a first-of-its-kind collaboration between healthcare organizations and the education community and is poised to move toward improving the healthcare of children in the region, according to CCA officials.

The Alere ACS HIE technology will allow the exchange of student electronic health records (EHRs) between different hospital emergency rooms, clinics, physician offices and school districts in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley. The HIE, branded as the Virtual Health Village, is expected to help clinicians more expediently access needed information, which should also result in the improved coordination of care.

Twenty-seven percent of the 32,000 Bethlehem Area and Allentown school district students change schools each year, contributing to the problem of fragmented pediatric records. The Children's Care Alliance—a collaboration of local hospitals, school districts and care providers—anticipates greater patient and provider satisfaction and lower healthcare costs by reducing duplicate tests and procedures. In addition to cutting student absence from school, the HIE will benefit parents and regional employers with fewer missed workdays.

"Many children living in this area suffer from chronic conditions including asthma and obesity. The health care systems and community organizations need to rally together," Mike Cirba, CIO, Good Shepherd Rehabilitation Network and current CCA Chairperson, said in a statement. "The problem is that care delivery is disconnected. Individual health records are scattered among multiple access points of care. And, unfortunately, vital clinical information is often not available to the local physicians, health systems, and the school health rooms that see these kids. By working with Alere ACS, we are committed to bringing key clinical data sets together for clinicians across multiple organizations."

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