Unique Collaboration Aims to Boost Georgia’s Correctional Healthcare Delivery

By CN Staff

Georgia—Wellpath recently announced an alliance with the Morehouse School of Medicine and the HI-BRIDGE Health Information Exchange (HIE) to electronically share real-time correctional patient health information for care delivery throughout 70 facilities in Georgia.

This alliance enables the exchange of real-time, secure healthcare data between the HIE and Wellpath’s electronic health record platform, Electronic Records Management Application (ERMA). The data can include medication history, prior diagnoses, allergies, and lab reports from any one of the many contributing sources. The bi-directional data flow between Wellpath and HI-BRIDGE HIE also enables clinical services provided by Wellpath to be added to the patient record and shared with other local and national healthcare providers and organizations when the patient seeks medical care following release.

“Communication is crucial as it relates to healthcare delivery in our facilities and incorporating this model will help ensure information is being shared efficiently and in real-time,” said Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Timothy C. Ward.  “We appreciate our partners at Wellpath and their commitment to continuous process improvement involving healthcare for our offender population.”

The HI-BRIDGE HIE is an independent regional information exchange established through the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine and connected to the Georgia Health Information Network (GaHIN). The simplified exchange of comprehensive, real-time patient health information supports care coordination and optimal health outcomes by eliminating disparities and improving access to health information. The Wellpath/HI-BRIDGE HIE relationship goes back to 2017, connecting a network of local county jails with the exchange of patient health information.

“This is a unique model of data exchange partners covering public, private, and academic experts,” said Carmen L. Hughes, MBA, executive director, HI-BRIDGE HIE. “Through the partnership, Wellpath clinicians will have patient clinical records at the point of care or in a healthcare crisis; this is critical for continuity of patient care,” Hughes said.

Wellpath continuously seeks ways to improve the quality of healthcare delivered to its patients. “Health Information Exchanges are an important component in the delivery of quality healthcare, and we believe our patients are best served when we provide them with the most informed care possible,” said Jorge Dominicis, CEO of Wellpath. “When one of our healthcare professionals meets a patient for the first time and immediately has access to the patient’s entire medical history, that patient can receive optimal care, and that is always our goal.”

Wellpath expanded its relationship with Morehouse School of Medicine in November 2021 by helping to offer an Online Education and Expanded Programs (OEEP) certificate that promotes health equity for justice-involved individuals. Wellpath clinicians are helping build another course on the impact of social determinants of health (SDoH) in correctional settings, with the goal to encourage community resources that eliminate barriers to care for justice-served patients.

“This special relationship in education between Wellpath and Morehouse began in November 2021 when the two organizations recognized the need for medical programs focused on incarcerated patients,” explained Dominic H. Mack, MD, MBA, executive medical director, HI-BRIDGE HIE, director, National Center for Primary Care, and faculty member for Family Medicine, at the Morehouse School of Medicine. “Together, we designed a self-directed online certificate for coaches wanting to help justice-involved individuals. Technology plays a significant role in primary care practice,” said Dr. Mack.

Students with a bachelor’s degree are guaranteed admission into Morehouse School of Medicine, pending SACSCOC approval of a Master of Administration in Justice-Involved Care (MAJIC) degree program. They also receive a scholarship, he said.