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Four Years Later, Northeast Florida Not Plugged Into Health Information Exchange

Ryan Benk

State health officials, doctors and technology experts converged on the University of North Florida campus Thursday to promote Florida’s Health Information Exchange.

The exchange allows doctors and hospitals to easily share patient records with each other.

The state network is lacking buy-in from some local communities.

Florida’s Health Information Exchange was created in part with federal stimulus money in 2011.

It’s supposed to be a network allowing patients and their caregivers to access health records through a secure website.

Walt Culbertson is president of health IT company Connecting Healthcare. He says it’s a great idea... but it has yet to be fully realized.

“The challenge that we’re having and where we need more funding and maybe the hospitals to step up and the insurance plans is to be able to build those local networks of connections that then connect out to the wider Florida community,” Culbertson says.

Culbertson says just one Jacksonville hospital, UF Health, is plugged in to the exchange.

The Florida Agency for Health Care Administration’s Nikole Helvey says the reason is cost.

“For individual providers who want to purchase that want to purchase an electronic health record or an electronic medical record system, there is an initial investment,” Helvey says.

Helvey says the hope is when more doctors buy in, the cost of equipment will drop. 

Ryan Benk is a former WJCT News reporter who joined the station in 2015 after working as a news researcher and reporter for NPR affiliate WFSU in Tallahassee.