Seamless data exchange key to urgent care center, health system partnerships

Computers connecting

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As partnerships between urgent care organizations and health systems grow, so, too, does the importance of having systems that can seamlessly share data.

While the flow of information is key to ensuring that care between the two isn’t fragmented, data sharing is not yet fully advanced, as a recent HealthData Management article explores.

Health systems are looking to grow partnerships with urgent care centers in part because more patients are seeking treatment at such centers rather than making an appointment with their primary care physician because of convenience and time savings, FierceHealthcare previously reported.

Currently, between the care centers and health systems, there is a fair amount of integration of electronic medical records, but integration at the application programming interface level is not quite there yet, Tom Charland, founder and CEO of Merchant Medicine, a consulting and research firm based in Minnesota, says in the article. However, he adds that in the next three or so years “it’s going to be a whole new ball game.”

One organization, GoHealth Urgent Care, has more than 37 centers in New York, Oregon and Washington. Its Portland, Oregon, centers use the same electronic health record system as Legacy Health, allowing for an easy partnership when it comes to patient data access.

American Family Care is a second example. That organization is testing sharing data between its urgent care centers in Alabama and Baptist Health using the EHR system.

Health information exchanges, HL7 messaging and other platforms also are aiding in the efforts.

However, barriers remain, the article notes. Those can include high integration fees paid to EHR vendors, a lack of ability for real-time communication and translation of codes.