San Diego County launches regional health net

San Diego County has formally launched a regional health information organization to improve health care for the county’s 3 million people and reduce costs for its 10,000 health professionals.

San Diego will implement the San Diego Medical Information Network Exchange (SD MINE), based on a Sun Microsystems solution, in several phases. First, the county will focus on credentialing programs and linking emergency rooms to provide a broader safety net for uninsured patients.

"Just one of our members, Scripps Hospital, has some 1,500 uninsured patients each month turning up at the emergency room," said Steve Carson, chief medical officer at the San Diego Medical Society Foundation. "If just 10 percent of these could be diverted to more suitable facilities, the savings could easily reach $100,000 a month."

Emergency room workers could use SD MINE to quickly find other facilities for patients whom primary care doctors, rather than ER physicians, could treat, he said.

Other phases include a clinical messaging system to track hospitalized patients, a link to immunization and diabetes registries, and a Web portal for patients to learn about eligibility, billing and resource issues.

The county chose Sun as the single vendor because its solution is already in use in similar systems worldwide. It also wanted to dodge integration costs that have hobbled other U.S. health organizations that have worked with several vendors, Carson said.

Sun's Java Integration Suite is the renamed product that formerly belonged to SeeBeyond Technology, which Sun bought in August 2005.

"One of the things [SD MINE] was adamant about was the need for an open architecture," said Wayne Owens, vice president of health care integration platforms at Sun. "Everything we have can easily be moved to other platforms, so if five years from now they want to go to a new technology, all we have to do is move our code over."

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.

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