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An Outstanding Example of Health Information Technology

By Governor Dave Heineman

I was in Hastings this week to offer my congratulations to Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital on joining the Nebraska Health Information Initiative – better known as NeHII – earlier this year. NeHII is a statewide health information exchange connecting electronic medical records and allowing participating medical providers to access that data quickly and securely.

Mary Lanning and the other participating hospitals are setting an example for the rest of the state. NeHII provides a fast and convenient way for medical information to flow among care givers. It is a perfect example of how technology can provide better efficiency while improving patient safety and the security of medical information.

One year after launching as a statewide exchange, NeHII already contains records for more than 1.6 million patients through participating hospitals in Omaha including Alegent Health, Children’s Hospital and Medical Center, Methodist Health System, and The Nebraska Medical Center, as well as Great Plains Regional Medical Center in North Platte, and Mary Lanning in Hastings.

The public and private partners who have developed the Nebraska Health Information Initiative, have made Nebraska a leader in building a platform for medical information to be secure, portable and transferrable. Dr. David Blumenthal, national coordinator for health information technology, visited last week and recognized NeHII and Nebraska as a great example for other states.

This transformation is about more than simply moving from paper-based records to electronic records. It’s about creating a way for information to be shared securely but quickly in order to provide faster, better patient care.

The speed of information sharing that a network like this can provide is remarkable. More than 95 percent of information requests for the 12 million diagnostic reports, x-rays and other results already active on the exchange are processed in under two seconds, making this a very valuable tool for hospitals and medical practices in terms of efficiency.

Mary Lanning Memorial Hospital was the first community hospital to join the exchange and launched a public education campaign to help patients and their families understand the benefits of medical providers having access to their records.

Their successful launch is clear evidence that patients and their families want their care givers to be able to access their medical records quickly and easily. Better sharing of information can reduce the need for duplicate medical tests and provide medical professionals a more accurate picture of a patient’s status over time.

This week NeHII leaders announced that Omaha’s Creighton University Medical Center is planning to be part of the exchange this fall, and that NeHII will expand to allow pharmacies and other medical specialists to become members of the exchange, including: dentists, chiropractors, physicians’ assistants, podiatrists, and optometrists.

This is an exciting time. Nebraska has been recognized as a state on the leading edge of health information technology because of the success of the NeHII exchange.

This effort has accomplished something truly outstanding for our state. I hope hospitals and medical professionals across the state will consider the benefits of this new technology. I look forward to NeHII’s continued growth and success.