- Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC) has committed $250,000 toward connecting all healthcare providers in Genesee County, Michigan to GLHC’s statewide health information exchange. The assistance comes in response to lead contamination of drinking water in the city of Flint, population center of the Mid Michigan county.
GLHC will collaborate with the Greater Flint Health Coalition to build up the region’s health IT infrastructure and facilitate long-term care coordination for the more than 420,000 residents.
An estimated 6,000 to 12,000 children have been exposed to lead poisoning from the Flint water system, according to the United Way of Genesee County, which has initiated a $100 million fundraising campaign for medical treatment over the next 10 to 15 years.
“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, in a public statement. “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 funding from GLHC will be allocated as follows:
- $100,000 is set aside for a Community Interface Grant that will cover costs of connecting more than 40 physician offices across Genesee County.
- $90,000 will support a dedicated implementation consultant, who will coordinate the initiative at the local level.
- $50,000 will fund development of an analytics engine enabling shared communications and detailed data analysis.
- $10,000 will 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 Larry Reynolds, MD, president and 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.”
In early January GLHC began investigating how it could assist with the lead exposure response. The organization’s board concluded that an infrastructure upgrade would best leverage its expertise. More than 4,000 provider offices and 128 hospitals access GLHC’s registries and solution across the state. That coverage includes all hospitals in Genesee County, which use the technology in their emergency department, inpatient, outpatient and physician practice environments.
“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,” said Eden Wells, MD, the department’s chief medical executive. “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.”
Based in Grand Rapids, Mich., GLHC handles more than 1 billion secure message transitions per year for more than two-thirds of the state’s residents.