FL Corrections Dept Unveils EHR Implementation, Care Coordination

The Florida Department of Corrections has begun a statewide EHR implementation to boost health data interoperability for care coordination.

The Florida Department of Corrections (FDC) has entered the go-live phase of a statewide EHR implementation set to boost health data interoperability for care coordination. This marks a step forward in health IT adoption in the oft-disconnected criminal justice system.

An initial five facilities across the state have gone live with the EHR. The system is expected to be fully operational at all 50 facilities across the state by the end of the year.  

"Implementing an electronic medical records system has been a priority project for the Department," Florida Department of Corrections Secretary, Mark Inch, said in a public statement. "I am very pleased to see this long-term goal meet its target and to begin to use this important technology.”

FDC partnered with health IT vendor Centurion Health for the implementation.

Prior to the system implementation, all FDC health records were completed on paper forms. For another correctional facility to gain access to a patient’s health record, FDC officials had to manually scan and fax the paper document.

The new EHR will support interoperability across all facilities for centralized access to all patient records. Greater access to patient health information is expected to boost care coordination for individuals in the FDC system.

“Modernizing these records will allow greater continuity of care throughout the state and ensure critical information is easily accessible to our care providers,” Inch said.

Conversion to an EHR system is also set to mitigate clinician burden by limiting the amount of time spent on administrative processes for data exchange, officials said.

The EHR implementation is also expected to boost provider access to laboratory and radiology results. Additionally, officials noted that the new system will give the FDC Office of Health Services access to patient health records for more efficient responses to officials and family members.

Jails and prisons have long been disconnected from the rest of the healthcare delivery system, leading to uncoordinated care.

The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department is looking to boost care delivery for incarcerated individuals in partnership with the Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA).

The sheriff’s department and the HHSA’s Behavioral Health Services division have signed an agreement to seek to develop a more coordinated physical and behavioral healthcare delivery system for individuals in the county's seven detention facilities.

According to the agreement, HHSA and the sheriff's department will work collaboratively to improve health record-keeping and data sharing for care coordination.

"Correctional healthcare is a dynamic, engaging environment and represents nearly the full spectrum of public health," Jon Montgomery, DO, chief medical officer of the sheriff's department, said in a press release.

"We provide care for an extremely diverse, medically challenging population,” he continued. “Partnering with Health and Human Services Agency is a natural progression, as we both serve the same patients, just at different stages in their lives along the continuity of care."

Luke Bergmann, HHSA Behavioral Health Services director, noted that people with behavioral health conditions are more likely to be jailed, and more likely to be jailed repeatedly.

“We know that incarceration deteriorates health, leading to worsening symptoms of mental illness and higher risk of death due to drug overdose," Bergmann explained.

"The collaborative work that we are beginning with the sheriff's department is designed to reverse these trends by engaging the jail population in care, and by proactively coordinating community-based health and behavioral healthcare for people leaving jail, so that they are more likely to remain in better health, and less likely to return to jail," he said.

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