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Blue Cross awards funds to rural health partnership

by Special to The Commercial | January 12, 2021 at 3:00 a.m.

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield recently awarded an additional $250,000 to the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (ARHP) to support participating facilities in improving how they exchange patient information.

ARHP includes Pine Bluff and southeast Arkansas sites, according to a Jan. 5 news release.

Arkansas Blue Cross provided an initial grant of $817,000 to ARHP in January 2020.

Facilities receiving the latest funding include: Jefferson Regional Medical Center, Drew Memorial Hospital, Bradley County Medical Center, Ashley County Medical Center, Dallas County Medical Center, Magnolia Regional Medical Center, Medical Center of South Arkansas, Ouachita County Medical Center, Baptist Health – Stuttgart, Mid Delta Health Systems, Helena Regional Medical Center, DeWitt Hospital and Nursing Home, Delta Memorial Medical Center, McGehee Hospital, Chicot Memorial Medical Center and Mainline Health Systems.

ARHP is a nonprofit organization of 14 hospitals and two federally-qualified health centers across south Arkansas. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) supports the partnership on professional health education and public health issues.

Arkansas Blue Cross funding helps ARHP facilities maintain their participation in the State Health Alliance for Records Exchange (SHARE), which is overseen by the Office of Health Information Technology (a division of the Arkansas Department of Health.) SHARE provides ARHP hospitals and health-care providers with real-time patient information.

"Through SHARE and Arkansas Blue Cross, our member hospitals have been able to share and have access to patient data, which has been crucial during the pandemic," said Mellie Bridewell, ARHP's chief executive officer and a UAMS regional director of strategy, management and administration.

"This continued financial support for 2021 helps these rural hospitals focus on caring for their patients and communities."

SHARE lets users transmit and exchange patient information such as clinical care summaries, vital signs, medications, allergies, continuity of care documents, transitions of care documents, immunization records, laboratory results, radiology report transcriptions and discharge summaries. Providers can instantly send clinical information to other providers. SHARE's daily reports give ARHP health-care providers a 24-hour snapshot of critical events, such as emergency room visits and inpatient discharges, according to the release.

"ARHP hospitals and clinics have been able to use SHARE to collaborate with other medical facilities and quickly get patients the care they need," said Curtis Barnett, president and CEO of Arkansas Blue Cross. "This funding is a continuation of our effort to provide quality investments in sustainable initiatives that improve care for the citizens of Arkansas."

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