February 11, 2016 | 10:46 am

Flint, MI – Today, Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC) and key partners across the region and state announced that children and families from Flint and Genesee County will benefit from detailed care coordination and enhanced communication capabilities through a major health information technology investment. This initiative is designed to help address and mitigate the longer term health effects and needs that may arise after lead exposure related to the Flint water crisis.

GLHC will invest $250,000 in collaboration with the Greater Flint Health Coalition and the healthcare community throughout Flint and Genesee County to build up the region’s health IT infrastructure, which is essential to the most timely, accurate and secure exchange of medical data, diagnosis and treatment. This investment is targeted at meeting the special needs of this crisis and aimed at connecting all Genesee County healthcare providers to GLHC’s statewide health information exchange network and is one of the largest corporate contributions to date in the aftermath of the Flint water situation. Establishing this technological connectivity will enable healthcare providers with enhanced communication to facilitate the long-term care coordination for more than 420,000 Genesee County residents.

GLHC is committed to leveraging the power of health information exchange in all aspects of community-based healthcare from physicians and hospitals to outpatient clinics, dental offices and other health organizations serving Michigan residents. Connecting all Genesee County healthcare entities will ensure the region’s providers have access to the most secure, accurate and timely medical data for generations to come. In addition, GLHC will connect community service organizations such as the Greater Flint Health Coalition to facilitate their efforts in support of the overall lead exposure response.

“The goal of the Great Lakes Health Connect Board of Directors is to give those responding to the healthcare needs of Flint’s residents the tools needed to coordinate care and positively impact the health and wellbeing of Flint’s citizens over the long term,” said Tom Bres, Board Chair for GLHC. “This integrated network of providers holds the potential for establishing the greater Flint region as the benchmark model for a care-connected community in the United States – a virtual environment where information can be shared quickly among healthcare providers, leading to more effective, efficient healthcare services.”

The $250K financial commitment being made by GLHC consists of:

  • $100K earmarked for a Community Interface Grant that will cover costs associated with linking more than 40 physician offices county-wide.
  • $90K for a dedicated implementation consultant to coordinate the initiative at the local level.
  • $50K will involve the build out of the analytics engine enabling the shared communications and detailed data analysis that will be needed for decades to come.
  • $10K education grant established to facilitate training for all entities being connected.

“On behalf of the hundreds of healthcare providers throughout Genesee County, I want to express our sincere gratitude for the Great Lakes Health Connect commitment to the children and families in and around Flint,” said Dr. Larry Reynolds, President & CEO of Mott Children’s Health Center. “As healthcare providers, we will persevere in providing those we serve with the education, testing and treatment they may need now and over the years to come.”

Added Dr. Eden Wells, the state’s Chief Medical Executive: “The State of Michigan and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services believe collaborating with public and private partners is critically important as we assist children and families in Flint affected by the water emergency. The efforts and generous financial contribution from Great Lakes Health Connect and partnerships like this with the Greater Flint Health Coalition and health care providers will enhance care coordination so families have access to more timely diagnosis and treatment.”

Great Lakes Health Connect has had an active presence in Genesee County for several years. Talks related to how GLHC and the region’s healthcare providers could assist in responding to the water issue began in early January. The GLHC Board of Directors concluded that an infrastructure upgrade would best leverage its organization’s expertise as well as the strengths of its vendors. The Great Lakes Health Connect registries and solutions are accessed by more than 4,000 provider offices and 128 Michigan hospitals representing 100 percent of hospitals in Genesee County and 85 percent of the acute care beds in the state. Flint-area hospitals currently leverage a variety of GLHC solutions and contribute to its registries within their emergency department, inpatient, outpatient and physician practice environments.

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About Great Lakes Health Connect:

Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC) is among the leading providers of health information exchange services in the nation. Based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, GLHC is the largest provider of health information exchange in Michigan connecting 128 hospitals and more than 4,000 primary, specialty and allied care practices statewide. Great Lakes Health Connect securely and seamlessly facilitates the transmission of more than 1 billion message transmissions each year for more than two-thirds of Michigan’s residents. The community-based nonprofit is dedicated to improving the quality and accessibility of healthcare information for more than 6.5 million patients. For more information, visit GLHC online at http://www.gl-hc.org.