Grand Junction health group expanding database

A group of Grand Junction health care partners has again received validation that their collaboration is eyed as a prescription for the nation’s health care woes.

A nearly $12 million federal grant will go toward expanding an information technology system to counties near Mesa County, allowing health care professionals to electronically track patients’ care.

For the past six years, local hospitals have worked with Mesa County Physicians IPA, a doctors network, and Rocky Mountain Health Plans, among other agencies, toward the online patient database called Quality Health Network.

The network was created for Mesa County and expanded to include Pitkin and Montrose counties. Grant dollars will help expedite an effort to get other nearby communities online with the technology, Rocky Mountain Health Plans President Steve ErkenBrack said.

“We would have done this with or without the grant, but you can only go so fast,” he said.

Western Colorado is one of 15 communities across the nation to receive a grant to further health care technology, with funds coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. A total of $220 million will be granted to all entities that received awards for the projects, called Health IT pilot projects. The grants are part of a $2 billion effort to create electronic health records for each person in the United States by 2014.

As part of the funding, the results of Quality Health Network expansion will be reported back to the federal government to gauge how to install electronic health records in other areas.

An electronic-health-records system reduces duplication of services for patients and can reduce unnecessary emergency room visits and limit hospital stays, all factors that can improve patient care and reduce health care costs.

Quality Health Network expansion will include setting up or improving the electronic infrastructure in the counties of Mesa, Garfield, Rio Blanco, Delta, Gunnison, Montrose and Pitkin, an area that includes 300,000 residents and a dozen hospitals.


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