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Bullock pushes for improved medical-information sharing among providers during Billings stop

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Posted at 5:30 PM, Oct 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-02 12:05:31-04

Gov. Steve Bullock announced Thursday in Billings that he would allow access of patient data in real time to medical providers participating in the Big Sky Care Connect (BSCC) program.

The discussion at RiverStone Health included Riverstone CEO John Felton, Montana Medical Association Jean Branscum, Rimrock CEO Lenette Kosovich and Dr. Randy Thompson of Billings Clinic.

The approval of BSCC comes five years after Bullock tasked the Governor’s Council on Health Care Innovation with finding new ways to establish a statewide health information exchange to improve patient care along with saving resources, cost and time.

The purpose of BSCC is to improve patient care by eliminating the need to share patient records between medical providers via fax, mail printed copies and limited secure direct messaging.

With the program, providers will be able to view patient records digitally before they recommend treatment. This will replace the need for providers to ask patients about medical history, allergies, current and past medicines and will prevent unnecessary procedures or testing to reduce costs.

Felton said that this is a chance for all medical providers to share information in a way that is secure, private, protected and auditable.

“If Montana wants to move forward, I think we all need to have a mechanism in which we can communicate with one another… We are continuing to improve health care and patient safety across our state,” said Felton.

Felton also acknowledged patients' security concerns.

According to him and other organizers of BSCC, the network is encrypted, stored securely and handled confidentially, meeting federal health information privacy laws. Sign-on authentication is used to track user identity and any accessed data is tracked and audited.

Bullock referred to the program as a modern way to improve information sharing and cut costs among providers.

“We knew expansion would break down barriers across our state, drastically improve our health care system, reducing cost, keep our rural hospitals afloat and improving economic livelihood," said Bullock.