BANGOR, Maine – St. Joseph Healthcare is the most recent Bangor-area health facility to connect to HealthInfoNet, Maine’s statewide health information exchange. The secure system links information from separate health care sites to create a single electronic patient health record. This record is easily accessible to doctors and nurses caring for patients in any participating facility. Having access to this system provides caregivers with the information they need to make the best decisions on behalf of their patients.
Last year, Bangor was one of just 17 communities nationwide to be awarded a $12.7 million grant from the U.S. Department of Heath and Human Services to participate in the Beacon Communities program. The goal of the Bangor Beacon Community grant is to facilitate connections among local health care sites in an effort to improve patient care coordination and safety and to lower health care costs. To support expanded community connectivity, all Beacon participants will be connected via HealthInfoNet.
Fifteen health care organizations statewide are already connected to HealthInfoNet, including Eastern Maine Healthcare Systems and Eastern Maine Medical Center. With the addition of St. Joseph Healthcare, providers from both hospitals can share important patient health information such as drug allergies, prescriptions, diagnoses, and lab and test results to help them give better care to their patients. This is especially important to the many patients who receive care from both hospitals.
The goal is for healthcare providers throughout Maine to be connected to HealthInfoNet, with all of Maine’s hospitals connected by 2014. Plans are in place for other Bangor Beacon Community partners, including Penobscot Community Health Care and The Acadia Hospital to join in the near future. Patients may choose not to participate in the statewide information exchange by “opting out.” Opt-out forms are available at all participating sites as well as online at www.hinfonet.org. If a patient opts out of HealthInfoNet, his or her medical information will be removed from the system and inaccessible to caregivers at the multiple healthcare sites.