There has been a lot of complaining lately about the lack of interoperability in healthcare information technology and how the inability of computers to communicate with each other is an impediment to organizing population health-improvement systems. But two Southern California organizations that just announced a deal to open a string of primary-care health centers said interoperability concerns will not stand in the way.
MemorialCare, UC Irvine announce plan to open primary-care centers—with interoperability
Southern California's MemorialCare Health System and UC Irvine Health announced the collaboration Oct. 2. Although the hospitals and medical groups of the two organizations use a mix of products that includes Allscripts, NextGen Healthcare as well as both Epic's hospital and ambulatory systems, executives say interfaces can be created to let them all talk to each other.
“It's not easy, but it's very doable,” says Terry Belmont, CEO of UC Irvine Medical Center. “We're all very confident it can be done.”
Barry Arbuckle, president and CEO of MemorialCare Health System, said “the IT piece is not insignificant,” but added that his organization's IT leaders have become experts in melding their existing computer systems with those used by the practices that join MemorialCare.
“We have it down to a process,” Arbuckle said. “It's just become routinized.”
MemorialCare is a five-hospital system based in Fountain Valley, Calif. The system includes Community Hospital Long Beach, Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children's Hospital Long Beach, as well as Orange Coast Memorial Medical Center in Fountain Valley and Saddleback Memorial Medical Center in Laguna Hills. The system also operates more than 200 clinics in Los Angeles and Orange counties with 12,000 employees and 3,000 physicians.
UC Irvine, a major academic medical center, operates a 363-bed facility in Orange that is part of UC Health, the system operated by the University of California. UC Irvine's primary-care physicians will be included as providers in MemorialCare health plan contracts.
Neither would say how many primary-care centers are planned, but they disclosed that locations are being scouted and two facilities should be open in the next 12 months. MemorialCare has been creative in picking its new locations. Its new clinic in Long Beach is located inside a former bookstore.
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