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Medical Facilities Exchange Electronic Records For First Time

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WGGB) — Medical history was made in Springfield Tuesday. A patient’s electronic medical record was instantaneously sent from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston to Baystate Medical Center. It was the first transmission on the new Massachusetts health information exchange, also called the HIway. It’s a first of its kind also in the nation.

Many hospitals have been using their own kind of electronic medical records but only internally. Figuring out a way for one hospital’s record system to talk to another one hasn’t happened till now.

“Hopefully, we can better improve the coordination of care and reduce redundancy perhaps in testing that may occur when one health care facility is unaware that other tests have already been performed,” said Dr. Evan Benjamin, Chief Quality Officer at Baystate Medical Center.

Benjamin says the coordination could save time, money and insure more accurate care. But is sending a medical record through cyberspace secure? Governor Deval Patrick was so confident in the security that he chose his own medical record to be the first one sent.

Baystate Medical Center Chief Information Officer, Joel Vengco, said the health information exchange uses a private network, not the internet.

“It’s a point to point transaction between two coordinated individuals who have a handshake, a technological or electronic handshake,” said Vengco. “And so that privacy is basically encapsulated between those two transactions, between two individuals on either end.”

Benjamin says that just as patients can now limit who gets their paper medical records, they’ll be able to limit who can see their electronic medical records.

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