Q & A with the directors of CommunityHealth IT
MyHealthStory, a creation of CommunityHealth IT, a nonprofit organization, provides safe, secure communication between doctors and patients. Dr. David Willis, the company’s chief medical information officer and medical director; and co-director Kendra Siler-Marsiglio PhD, shared how the company is bridging the rural health gap, particularly in North Central Florida.
Q: How and why did CommunityHealth IT get started?
A: CommunityHealth IT started in 2009 when medical, economic development, and learning institution leaders decided that patients and medical providers in Gainesville and its surrounding areas should have secure access to relevant health information whenever and wherever it’s need for better health care. That’s why the MyHealthStory Health Information Exchange was developed for all of North Central Florida. MyHealthStory’s technology allows secure communications between patients and their providers allowing meaningful interaction to take place between traditional office visits. Providers are delighted at the access to patient information and confident in the system’s ability to keep it private and secure. Businesses are looking forward to a healthier workforce that is more focused on maintaining or improving their health and the health of their families. Most importantly, patients have convenient access to their health information whenever and wherever its needed, anywhere there’s Internet.
Q: What makes it so important for doctors?
A: Doctors need to know about their patients’ health conditions in order to make good medical decisions and avoid making errors. Not being aware of allergies, for example, can lead to serious and sometimes life threatening reactions if the wrong medicine is prescribed. Doctors also rely in other available medical information when prescribing new tests or treatments. Having more information available at the point of decision making, particularly when tests were completed by other doctors and institutions, reduces duplicated testing, speeds diagnostic and therapeutic treatments, and prevents medical errors.
Q: How can patients benefit from it?
A: Everyone’s a patient; so, we all benefit from MyHealthStory. You and your healthcare providers have 24-hour access to your health information. You can also manage your children’s—and even adult parents’ care (with proper consents)—from one account. MyHealthStory provides a free and secure online personal health record that links you to the same health information (such as test results and medical information) that your providers use in delivering care to you and your family. If your doctor participates in MyHealthStory, you can interact privately and securely across the Internet with your doctor and your doctor’s staff about prescriptions, appointments, and other health-related issues. Whether you’re at home concerned about the new medication you started, or across the country on vacation an injured from a fall, your health story is easily available to you and your medical providers.
Q: What is the security like?
A: MyHealthStory shares the same technological platform used by the Department of Defense to provide servicemen and women their health data, globally. So, MyHealthStory is highly secure and its security is rigorously tested routinely. The National Health Information Sharing and Analysis Center, which is established by the Presidential Directive to protect the security of the nation’s health care delivery systems, provides the Information Security and Privacy Officer for MyHealthStory’s statewide exchange of health information. Perhaps most importantly, patients and the health care providers have access to an audit log of every health data exchange that is associated with a patient’s account. Patients can easily see who exchanged their data and when.
Q: What’s next for MyHealthStory?
A: MyHealthStory is an operational and nationally-recognized system. And, MyHealthStory Technology Evolution Specialists are deploying the system in doctor’s offices as they sign up to participate. Companies like Windstream have been developing co-branded campaigns with MyHealthStory to help get the word out to health care providers and the community at-large about the MyHealthStory system. Also, we have recently been chosen as one of a handful of health information technology systems taking part in a national VA project to improve care for those who have served our country. We’re working with the North Florida/South Georgia VA Health System to bridge the gap between the veteran and civilian health care delivery system in our region. Patients, whether veterans or civilians, can sign up for MyHealthStory on the homepage of communityhealthit.org. MyHealthStory is all about convenience, efficiency, and better care in a secure and private setting.
David C. Willis, MD
Dr. David Willis is the Medical Director for the Heart of Florida Federally-qualified Health Center and serves as Community Health IT’s Chief Medical Information Officer. He received his M.D. at the University of South Florida College of Medicine and completed his Residency at Florida Hospital. Dr. Willis is the immediate past-president of the Marion County Medical Society. He is currently the co-lead on the Office of the National Coordinator’s Rural Communities of Practice Patient Engagement Subcommittee.
Kendra Siler-Marsiglio, PhD
Kendra Siler-Marsiglio, Ph.D., is the Director of the Rural Health Partnership, a federally designated Rural Health Network that has a $900,000 HRSA-awarded grant to bring North Central Florida rural providers and hospitals to Meaningful Use and participate in health information exchange (HIE). She is CommunityHealth IT’s Co-Director and serves on the Leadership Board of the National Health Information Sharing Analysis Center with security experts from Verizon, Lockheed Martin, and Merck. She received her Ph.D. at the University of Florida.
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