Patients also will have the ability to go on-line and print the information to carry with them if, for instance, they are going to a large hospital to have a treatment or procedure, she says. The person will not be able to touch the clinical information, however, nor will a provider outside the miRHIO system, Calhoun adds.
Issuing smart cards to residents of the hurricane-prone Gulf Coast so their health information could be accessed during an emergency would have a huge potential benefit, she points out. "We're building on that piece. It's hard to limit our focus in order to manage the growth."
One of the most gratifying things about the smart card project, Calhoun says, has been the opportunity for a group of small, rural hospitals to be on the vanguard of technology with such far-reaching implications.
"Usually, rurals have to find a way to fit into technology that has been created," she adds. "This way, we can customize it to fit us."
(Editor's note: Look for more information on how STHS handled the challenges involved in implementing its smart card project in a future issue of Hospital Access Management. Shannon Calhoun can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Information on HealthMeans Inc. is available at www.healthmeans.com.)