News-Press Editorial: Sharing info a common-sense approach

The opinion of the News-Press

A common-sense approach to resolving local healthcare issues — including repeated readmissions to hospitals — may well be on the horizon, thanks to the Glendale Healthier Community Coalition's efforts to establish of a health information exchange among the city's hospitals.

Specifically, patients' electronic medical records would be shared among healthcare providers to improve coordination of their care.

The potential benefits of such a system would be worth any costs to set up the network, both to the patients' health and to the bottom line of hospitals. Patients first served by one Glendale hospital who, for one reason or another, show up for care at another local facility, would likely receive more appropriate treatment with the network in place, as doctors at the second site could access details of their previous medical treatments. This, in turn, would lead to a healthier community overall.

Hospitals, under healthcare reform laws, stand to lose Medicare base reimbursement funds if their readmission rates for certain medical conditions are too high. Improved communication that leads to speedier healing will translate to a reduced need for patient readmissions and save everyone money.

It would be ideal if all hospitals countywide or, even better, across the state, could be plugged into a communal network that would provide them with this information, but we applaud the local push by the Glendale coalition to get at least the three local hospitals coordinating their patient data.

The process has to start somewhere and we're heartened to see Glendale Memorial Hospital, Glendale Adventist Medical Center and USC Verdugo Hills Hospital sitting down together to hash out the fine details — including identifying funding sources — so the community can reap the benefits this vital system could provide.

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