SSM Health, with 20 hospitals serving markets in Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma and Wisconsin, is the first organization to go live with a new service from Surescripts that eases provider sharing of patient’s healthcare records.

SSM Health was a pilot site for the Record Locator Service and now has 14 hospitals on the system. The service presently covers 140 million patients representing about 2 billion interactions.

“By having a more complete care history, we can make faster and better decisions, avoid reordering expensive tests and help ensure that our patients receive the best care possible,” says Richard Vaughn, MD, chief information management officer at SSM Health.

Surescripts, which operates electronic prescribing and clinical data networks, has added to its information exchange capabilities with the new service, which pulls data from its systems to provide clinicians with a list of facilities and contact information at which a patient has been treated.

The facilities could include hospitals, pharmacies, private practices and urgent care. That’s information a clinician likely would not know about, Vaughn notes. “Once we query, we can see where other records are. That’s really important for new patients or patients who develop complications.”

The record locator service presently is available via Epic and NextGen electronic health records systems, and Surescripts is in discussions with other vendors to get them to incorporate the technology. Initial pharmacy partners are CVS Health and Express Scripts.

SSM Health now is in a “soft launch” phase of checking readiness for enterprise implementation by 2017, if not sooner, according to Vaughn. With everyone in the industry trying to determine how best to use health information exchange, “We’re glad to be helping drive a new form of technology,” he adds.

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