Arkansas Blue Cross gives additional funding to rural medical facilities to maintain digital health network

Arkansas Blue Cross and Blue Shield has awarded an additional $250,000 to the Arkansas Rural Health Partnership (ARHP) to support participating Arkansas hospitals and clinics in improving how they exchange patient information. The health insurer provided an initial grant of $817,000 to ARHP in January 2020.

The Arkansas Rural Health Partnership is a nonprofit organization made up of 14 hospitals and two federally qualified health centers spanning south Arkansas. The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences (UAMS) supports and works closely with the partnership on professional health education and public health issues.

The funding from Arkansas Blue Cross helps the partnership’s hospitals and their clinics 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 healthcare providers with real-time patient information.

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

SHARE’s vision is a healthier state population and an improved healthcare system where caregivers and patients have electronic access to more complete health records and are empowered to make better health decisions with this information. SHARE’s mission is to improve the delivery, coordination and quality of healthcare throughout Arkansas through the statewide use of health information technology and clinical data exchange

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.”

Arkansas Blue Cross representatives recently visited the campuses of all 16 ARHP hospitals to thank them for their hard work in the ongoing effort to fight COVID-19, connect with them on the progress of SHARE, and provide support funding to help offset some of the maintenance costs.

“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, the partnership’s CEO 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.”

ARHP hospitals and FQHCs receiving funding for SHARE include:

            •           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

            •           Mainline Health Systems

            •           Jefferson Regional

            •           Drew Memorial Hospital

            •           Bradley County Medical Center

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