Savannah Consumer Innovation

CHATHAM Connect with GeorgiaDirect -- Improving patient care through the automatic transfer of health information

Patients have always had access to their paper records, but they are scattered among providers and can be difficult to organize. In many cases, patients now have access to electronic records, but it still falls to the patient to collect and organize the information. In order for patients to understand their own private health information and use it to improve their health, it’s vital that they have easy access to reliable and accurate information that’s organized in a meaningful way.  

Even with the advancements that have been made in the world of Health IT, there are challenges in providing reliable and accurate data to patients. When receiving health data from a number of disparate electronic medical records (EMRs) or information sources, data can be in a variety of formats. The data may also have inherent flaws or gaps. When assembling longitudinal records for patients, there must be a reliable method for matching the data to a patient’s record, plus a secure storage system. And when allowing access to patient records, there must be secure and dependable methods to identify people accessing the record.  

Currently, a number of projects in Georgia can help address these challenges. Lab Hubs, a statewide project of the Georgia Health Information Technology Regional Extension Center (GA-HITREC), are a potential source of accurate lab test results coded to a common language and format. In addition, the GeorgiaDirect Project in Georgia supplies patients and providers with secure email addresses suitable for transmitting private health information.  

ChathamHealthLink (CHL) is an independent Georgia SAHIE allowing automatic transfer of patient data from participating providers, organization of longitudinal patient records, alerts to providers and clinical portals for participants. 

Chatham Connect with Direct is funded by the Georgia Department of Community Health. A Lab Hub and CHL will be linked to provide automatic, secure, electronic transfer of lab results to patients regardless of who ordered them and where they were performed — via the patient’s Direct address. Health data will be organized in a secure, longitudinal, central Patient Health Record that’s managed by the patient.

For Providers, this automatic system provides secure communication with patients without anyone having to push “send.” Patients will be able to participate as an equal partner in the care team because the data flows directly to them in real time. In addition, Direct addresses allow for better communication with providers and improved transfer of private health information.