HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division has joined Greater Houston Healthconnect, the region’s Health Information Exchange (HIE). The Gulf Coast Division’s participation represents a major milestone for the community, as it is the final major health system to join the HIE.

As the largest health system in Southeast Texas, HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division community footprint is robust, with 17 acute care hospitals, emergency centers, nine ambulatory surgery centers, more than 5,000 active physicians, and over 16,500 employees. Through its participation with Healthconnect, HCA Healthcare’s Gulf Coast Division will benefit from real-time access of medical information from across many different venues of care.

Healthconnect is the region’s community HIE, sharing medical information across the continuum of care — connecting clinicians with their patients’ complete health information, wherever and whenever they need it. By integrating the many disparate electronic health record systems (EHRs) across the provider community, Healthconnect delivers a complete medical picture of the patient, enabling clinicians to make more informed medical decisions right at the point-of-care.

“Participating in Healthconnect will assist HCA in delivering the highest quality care, enhance patient safety, improve efficiencies, and ultimately drive overall patient satisfaction,” says Troy Villarreal, HCA Gulf Coast Division president.

Dr. Carl Vartian, HCA Gulf Coast Division’s chief medical information officer, will serve on Healthconnect’s Board of Directors. A veteran physician-leader, Dr. Vartian explains, “Our association with Healthconnect will improve the care we provide to the patients who entrust their healthcare to our HCA hospitals and our affiliated physicians.”

Nick Bonvino, CEO of Greater Houston Healthconnect, adds, “The thought of connecting all health systems in Southeast Texas was a lofty goal when Healthconnect was formed in 2010. The final piece is now in place with the addition of HCA. Many may be surprised to know there is not a dominate EHR in our region. HCA, Memorial Hermann, and other non-Epic EHRs represent more than two-thirds of the market. This underscores the importance of our core mission to connect disparate systems across all venues of care.”

As HCA Gulf Coast Division joins the many hospital and health systems in Southeast Texas, Healthconnect becomes one of the largest HIEs in the country. “Our community has spoken! With all health systems and most physicians contracted with Healthconnect, the remaining providers should connect for the benefit of their patients,” declares Bonvino.

During Hurricane Harvey, Healthconnect staff worked shoulder-to-shoulder with caregivers, looking up evacuees’ medical histories in both the George R. Brown Convention Center and NRG Stadium. Medical record access was critically important during this time of crisis, where caregivers did not know the patients they were serving and no EHRs were present in the shelters. Going forward, patient medical information from all health systems will be accessible during this type of crisis.