Chatham County SafetyNet Planning Council

ChathamHealthLink (HIE)

Welcome to ChathamHealthLink, Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council's community Health Information Exchange.

One by one across the United States, health care providers are adopting electronic medical records, a system in which a patient's records are stored in computers, eliminating outdated paper records. But without a system of communication, providers would still have to use faxes or mail to share data with each other. Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council has gone a step further, establishing ChathamHealthLink, Georgia's first Health Information Exchange.

Each one of the Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council Primary Care Providers has taken on the challenge of selecting a vendor of Electronic Medical Records and Practice Management Systems and obtaining grant funding to implement their selections. In addition, both hospital systems are adopting systems of their own. Read more about Electronic Medical Records.

Click here to download a Georgia Health Info brochure on Electronic Health Information

The Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council, Inc (CCSNPC) was formed in 2004 by the Chatham County Commission and since then, has been lead by the Chatham County Health Department as the neutral convener. The council is composed of representatives from both hospital systems, providers of health care to the uninsured, city and county government, local non-profit agencies and citizen groups who are charged with working together to find efficient and effective methods to improve access to and quality of health care delivery to uninsured Chatham County citizens.

The members of CCSNPC meet regularly to plan projects and share ideas, but most importantly, participate in the rigorous formal evaluation of their work together. An Annual Evaluation has been performed since 2005 to monitor trends in demand and successes in providing service. The emerging field of Health Information Technology (HIT) was first identified by CCSNPC as the solution to gaps in quality of care and challenges in avoiding costly duplication of care identified in 2005. The pursuit of a HIT based solution, specifically a Health Information Exchange (HIE), was acknowledged as a CCSNPC priority. As a result, the CCSNPC applied for a grant through the Georgia Department of Community Health (DCH) to plan and implement a council-wide project. CCSNPC was named one of three state HIE demonstration projects by the Georgia DCH. Grant funding began in November 2007. CCSNPC was also granted a Health Resources and Services Administration earmark for equipment and software purchasing.

Read about the HIE development process and the DCH grant

Journal of Healthcare Information Management article about ChathamHealthLink

typing.jpgThe purpose of a Health Information Exchange is to allow participating provider organizations to share patient information in a safe and secure manner. The computer systems of the participants automatically send summaries of patient records to a central database managed by the ChathamHealthLink. Any data sent to the central database travels through a secure private channel called a Virtual Private Network or VPN tunnel. As the data is received by ChathamHealthLink it is matched to the proper patient by our Enterprise Master Patient Index and made a part of the consolidated medical summary available to authorized users at any of the participant locations.

In October 2009, Chatham County Safety Net Planning Council (CCSNPC) started building our HIE with a software infrastructure that allows for secure data exchange, messaging, a clinical data repository, a master patient index and a web-based portal for Safety Net providers, consumers, and others involved in supporting the communities' healthcare. Learn more about ChathamHealthLink architecture.

Beginning with connecting Memorial Health University Medical Center's Emergency Department and one Federally Qualified Health Center, J.C. Lewis Health Center, ChathamHealthLink went live in April 2010. Eventually all CCSNPC providers with an Electronic Medical Records system will be able to participate in ChathamHealthLink. And over time, the system has the capability of expanding to include all area hospital systems, public health, behavioral health, correctional health, private providers and more, as long as the participating systems have electronic medical records. In addition, ChathamHealthLink will be able to report to other HIE's in the state as they are developed.

Georgia Office of Health Information Technology
Georgia Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society
Georgia Cancer Quality Information Exchange

Patient Privacy is built in to the system in many layers.  First all users of the system must be authorized through authentication with a user id and password.  An audit log is kept to record every time a patient record is viewed and by whom.  Custom access policies can be created to protect all or a portion of patient records. Read more about our policy and procedure development.

Click the images below to view PowerPoint presentations about ChathamHealthLink: