A three-year, $1.5 million federal grant is helping Kern County, California to begin building the infrastructure necessary for an electronic health record system, reports the Antelope Valley Press.
The Tehachapi Valley Health Care District, which operates rural health clinics in Mojave, California City and Tehachapi, in addition to Tehachapi Hospital, has created and designated the "East Kern County Integrated Technology Association" to be the hub for the EHR database. The EHR Exchange will be accessible to physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and other providers. The system will also allow patients to access their personal health records (PHR) through a secure Web site called myhealthkeeper.org. They will also be able to print out a wallet-sized card with their data to keep handy in case of emergency.

As with any Health Information Exchange (HIE) or Regional Health Information Organization (RHIO), privacy and security concerns abound. The California collaborators indicate that their exchange will use security similar to on-line banking services in order to ensure patient privacy. However, one board member comments: "This is a very, very novel idea in terms of health information exchange, and because it is so new, no industry-wide standards in terms of software and other infrastructure have been established."

However, with more and more HIEs and RHIOs popping up every day across the United States, there are more resources and model documents that can be looked to for guidance. I have found the following websites particularly helpful on this topic: http://www.connectingforhealth.org and the California Health Care Foundation’s website dedicated to iHealth and Technology.