Delaware to Protect Patients and Safeguard Against Bioterrorism Through Partnering Agreement With the Patient Safety Institute

PLANO, Texas and WILMINGTON, Del. -- Delaware is embarking on becoming the first state in the nation to provide statewide electronic access to clinical information at the point of care. A key to the system is that patient consent is required and access is strictly limited to the provider delivering the care. The operational component will be supplied by the non profit Patient Safety Institute's (PSI) robust clinical information sharing network.

The agreement between PSI, the Delaware Health Care Commission (DHCC) and Delaware's Division of Public Health was announced today and will begin immediately. The first phase of implementation is expected to be in place within six months, followed by a more robust clinical data sharing capability that will facilitate the reduction of medical errors, improve quality and reduce healthcare costs.

"Delaware is committed to assuring its citizens the quality-enhancing benefits of networked, real-time clinical information, with a guarantee of confidentiality," said Lieutenant Governor John C. Carney, Jr., chairman of the DHCC. "The system will also provide state health officials with an enhanced capability to identify the first signs of a bioterrorism attack or a new infectious disease like SARS."

"At a time when healthcare costs are quickly rising and many Americans are unable to get health insurance, we need to find ways to make healthcare safer and more affordable," said U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del.). "PSI can help on both of these fronts. At least one private consulting firm estimated that PSI could save $40 billion a year in health care costs if implemented nationally. That is why I am asking the General Accounting Office to come up with an independent analysis of the financial benefits of PSI."

"Having secured federal funding for the Delaware Electronic Reporting Surveillance System and being supportive of the Delaware Health Information Network, I am pleased to see Delaware working to be the first state to implement a statewide system that provides our citizens with a higher quality of care, protection for their medical information, improved patient safety and overall lower cost. This is something that is important for our nation as well as our state," said Congressman Mike Castle (R-Del).

"We are pleased to have the opportunity to develop the nation's first statewide clinical information sharing utility in Delaware," said Jack Lewin, MD, PSI's board chairman and CEO of the California Medical Association. "We believe that this represents a quantum leap forward in the national drive to apply technology to solve our nation's patient safety and health care cost crisis."

"What most appeals to me is the potential to facilitate much better decision making by doctors and patients," said DHIN board member Joann Hasse, a past president of the League of Women Voters of Delaware and current healthcare chair. "As a retired nurse I know that patients and their families do not always remember or properly evaluate the patients' medical history, especially when in a stressful situation."

PSI is a non profit membership organization that brings patients and healthcare providers together using technology similar to that used by the VISA network for connecting banks, retailers and consumers. The key in both cases is providing secure and private real time information at the point of contact. The Delaware network provides a statewide showcase for PSI's unique, scalable network and patient-centered approach, which incorporates the perspectives of consumers, physicians and hospitals. The value and effectiveness of the PSI approach has already been demonstrated in Seattle.

"The application of advanced network technology in patient care situations will keep Delaware physicians on the forefront of enhancements in clinical practice, providing higher quality, efficient medical care," said Mark Meister, executive director of the Medical Society of Delaware. "Physicians welcome access to the clinical information that will enhance their clinical decision making."

"Delaware's hospitals are leaders in working cooperatively with physicians, the Delaware Health Care Commission and the Division of Public Health to improve the quality of health care in our State," said Joseph Letnaunchyn, president of the Delaware Healthcare Association, which represents Delaware's hospitals and health systems. "This exciting new initiative is a natural extension of our existing commitment to our patients."

Leo Gilmore, senior vice president of Information Services for Christiana Care Health System, the state's largest provider, added: "We are excited about the potential to improve the quality and reduce the cost of health care in our community. By enabling the appropriate electronic connection of all health care partners, Delaware and PSI will have achieved an innovative and evolutionary approach, which is elegant, through its simplicity."

"Reducing healthcare costs and improving patient safety is a high- priority for state governments across the U.S.," said Johnny Walker, CEO of PSI. "PSI is providing the state of Delaware with an easy to implement, integrated network solution that allows the state to effectively leverage PSI's inexpensive network to provide higher quality, lower cost care while providing an important homeland security capability at the same time."

PSI is a non-profit membership organization governed by leading consumer, physician and hospital advocates who are working together to improve health care quality and lower costs. PSI was formed to provide the healthcare industry with a commonly owned, utility-like communications and operating infrastructure.

The Delaware Health Care Commission is an independent, public body, reporting to the Governor and the General Assembly, working to promote accessible, affordable, quality health care for all Delawareans. The status given by the General Assembly to the Commission as a policy-setting body gives it a unique position in state government. It is intended to allow creative thinking outside the usual confines of conducting day-to-day state business. The Commission is expressly authorized to conduct pilot projects to test methods for catalyzing private-sector activities that will help the state meet its health care needs.

Source: Patient Safety Institute; Delaware Health Care Commission

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