SAN ANTONIO - A new way local hospitals are working together could save your life.
More than 30 hospitals representing every major system are now sharing medical records. Southwest General Hospital was the final system to join, making the information exchange complete.
The goal is to help patients like D.D. Belair. When her daughter was born with a rare diagnosis, she started collecting medical records.
"One time she was seen by four physicians at once," Belair says. "There's reports to keep track of. There's calendars to keep track of. There's scans. There's just so much paperwork generated."
Over the years it became so overwhelming, she needed a binder to keep track.
"I had a tool to make me feel like I was in control of what was going on," Belair says.
Now a new online portal is putting all that paperwork at doctors' fingertips.
"Whether it be labs or imaging reports or information from a specialist or primary care doctor," Dr. Vanessa Hill with Children's Hospital of San Antonio says. "It could save lives."
The information exchange is run by Healthcare Access San Antonio.
"We're kind of sitting in the center, so you can think of it as a hub and spoke," the group's director Gijs Van Oort says. "We're the hub in the center. Everybody sends us information. And we kind of collect this. We aggregate it and make it available back to the community."
For example, if your child was treated at University Hospital and then later admitted to Children's Hospital, doctors are now able to access vital records like X-rays and allergies.
"They feel they treat the patient much more effectively and much safer," Van Oort says.
He says patient privacy is taken very seriously: the data server is secure, and patients can opt-out if they don't want their records shared.
The exchange was first funded by a government grant. Now, hospitals pay for the service.
"We have all of that information available for us to make the best decision we can for these patients in a small amount of time. So that's invaluable," Dr. Hill says.
Patients can also access their records. As Belair's daughter turns 18, it's a chance to hand over the reins.
"Because her care is going to be care for a lifetime," she says.
By EMILY BAUCUM