Obamacare may be a flop, but 1200 WOAI news reports more than 600,000 patients in metro San Antonio have gotten signed up for a program which really will improve their health, and will actually cut medical costs.


  Healthcare Access San Antonio says physicians at five of the six major hospital groups in San Antonio are now able to share medical records through a robust Health Information Exchange, placing us among the nation's leaders when it comes to portability of health data.


  "Today marks an important milestone of something that will profoundly benefit out community well into the future," said Gijs Van Oort, the executive director of HASA.  "Health providers and hospital systems will not compete on patient information.  The main reason for doing this is for the patient.  Our goal is to help improve continuity of care and increase patient health and safety.


  Placing health information on line enables physicians and other medical providers to have instant access to a patient's vital information instantly, 24/7.  It eliminates duplication by allowing all doctors to see test results, and it enables physicians to be able to tell instantly if a patient is under a certain medication, is allergic to certain drugs, or has a low tolerance for certain treatments.


  Geoff Crabtree, senior vice president of Methodist Healthcare System, says having patient information available electronically is a game changer for the medical profession.


  "The benefit of knowing what tests have already been done for patients coming into our system so that we don't repeat them, knowing where they have already been treated and what medications they are taking is of paramount importance to both the health provider and the patient," Crabtree said.


  He says the system was designed with heavily encrypted security protections to ensure privacy.  He also said patients can opt out of the system if they do not want their medical records stores electronically.


  For DD Belair on line medical records have literally been a lifesaver.


  She has a child with a medically complex condition, and she says for the last decade she has been the 'gatekeeper of all of the reports, scans, and digital images.'


  "I look forward to not having to lug around the pile of records to each doctor appointment," she said.


  Pat Carrier, CEO of CHRISTUS Santa Rosa Health System said duplicative care costs local patients millions of dollars a year.


  "In order to truly be able to have seamless and efficient health care across multiple providers, the sharing of appropriately guarded patient information will be critical," he said.  "Beginning today, patients can know that their information is available when they need it and will only be viewable as they decide and their care givers will only use this information as is necessary to improve their hospital experience."