S.C. health information exchange goes live

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The South Carolina Health Information Exchange, which will link hospitals, doctors, clinics and other healthcare providers to share medical records, is going online this month amid state residents' privacy and security concerns.

The state’s Budget and Control Board's Office of Research and Statistics built the SCIEx, which involves the state’s 700,000 poor and disabled on Medicaid.

According to the Greenville News, the program will begin this month and supporters hope the rest of the state's residents will not be too far behind. However, concern about theft of personal information and breached data storehouses still remains.

The key components are a records locator service and a system to link various health data bases, David Patterson, deputy chief of health and demographics, told the Greenville News. With a patient's past medical history, including diagnoses, medications and test results, healthcare workers can provide better care, he said.

Besides the Department of Health and Human Services, which paid $250,000 to set up the system, the South Carolina Hospital Association, the South Carolina Primary Care Association, the Office of Rural Health and other healthcare providers have signed onto SCIEx, Patterson said.

“We want to give healthcare providers quick access to patient information so they can better treat the patient when they come in,” Patterson said. He added that they are currently “dependent on human recall.”

Deborah Peel, MD, a psychiatrist and founder of the Texas-based Patient Privacy Rights Foundation, told the Greenville News that she is not against EHRs, as long as the systems are built with consumers in control, which is rare. She said that once records are exposed, someone’s medical records can live on the internet forever. And the consequences can be devastating, including employment and insurance discrimination, according to Peel.