Grant to help counties share health information

Published 7:11 am Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A grant split among 11 counties and multiple health organizations may soon help Austin Medical Center and Mower County Public Health share information in a secure way.

The county board gave Mower County Public Health approval to implement programs from a grant for Southeast Minnesota Beacon Program.

The Southeast Minnesota Beacon grant provided about $14 million in funding. The project includes 11 counties, their public health offices and many health care providers.

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About $1.7 million will go toward improving public health documentation software. The money will be used to improve existing software for better communication between AMC and public health.

“I see this grant as really a technology grant working with hospitals and clinics and school districts with the sole purpose of improving health outcomes, improving quality, safety and doing it in a secure way,” said Public Health Director Margene Gunderson.

Most of the $1.7 million will go toward programming and improving what Gunderson described as a place for information exchange.

According to Gunderson, Minnesota law will require public health departments to have this technology and functionality by 2013.

“The grant is in some ways timely because we’re needing to do this anyway” she said.

Gunderson also said the system will provide public health with better, more current data when doing public health assessments.

The grant will also include work on two educational endeavors in schools on diabetes and asthma. Gunderson said more details on the educational practices will be forthcoming.

“The project goal for the asthma and diabetes is to really lay the groundwork for better use of our health information to improve health overall,” she said.