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Officials Establish Links for Continuity of Care for Pennsylvanians Reentering Their Communities
HARRISBURG, Pa. – The Pennsylvania departments of Human Services (DHS) and Corrections (DOC) recently announced that all of DOC’s state-run correctional facilities are connected to DHS’ Pennsylvania Patient & Provider Network (P3N).
This marks a significant milestone in the commonwealth’s ability to help individuals to maintain continuity of their medical care before, during and after incarceration in a Pennsylvania state prison.
“DOC’s connection to the P3N will have a positive impact on health care for incarcerated and returning citizens by enabling the electronic sharing of information with thousands of health care providers connected to the five existing P3N certified Health Information Organizations (HIO) in Pennsylvania,” said DHS Secretary Teresa Miller. “This will bridge connections between care received while incarcerated to help returning citizens on their paths to healthy and productive lives.”
“Our charge every single day is to provide our inmate population with health care services that meet or exceed community standards,” said DOC Deputy Secretary for Administration Christopher Oppman. “Having immediate access to past medical records gives us the ability to provide timely, comprehensive care, which benefits the inmate and his/her health. Similarly, being able to provide critical information to outside health care providers upon release also ensures continuity of health care services and successful reentry back into the community.”
When an individual first enters an SCI, that facility will access that person’s medical data via the P3N to review the treatments and services they received from health care providers prior to their incarceration. This will give the correctional facility a better picture of a new inmate’s clinical history so that they can provide appropriate follow-up care while the person resides in that SCI.
Health care providers who are treating and caring for reentrants are also able to access vital information that providers should know when making clinical decisions. P3N network participants across the commonwealth will be able to access DOC’s patient information about treatments and services that individuals received during their periods of incarceration in a state correctional institution (SCI).
In addition to maintaining continuity of care, this bi-directional information exchange between DOC and the P3N also reduces the amount of time needed to access vital patient data and lowers costs by reducing duplicative tests and services.
Through this partnership with DHS, the DOC’s connection to the P3N gives SCI medical personnel the data needed to treat and serve new inmates. In addition, community health providers can better serve reentrants who have become their patients, helping them to achieve better health outcomes.
The P3N was established through Act 76 of 2016 to create a means of communication between health care providers, payers and patients. It creates efficiencies in health care delivery and promotes improved health outcomes for patients. The P3N links health information organization (HIO) member organizations to providers and payers across the state improving health care in their communities through increased coordination and communication between providers.
In July, Governor Tom Wolf signed an executive order strengthening protections for vulnerable populations such as re-entering citizens. As part of this effort, the administration is committed to supporting innovation in work and information sharing between agencies and our partners in the private sector. This expanded network of information sharing will help health care providers working in the SCIs and communities have more complete pictures of reentering citizens’ medical histories and do more to address their needs and barriers to good health.
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