SSM Health Taking the Lead in Implementing National Record Locator Service 


SSM Health continues to push the interoperability envelope by bringing innovative technologies to patient care. We recently became the first health system in the country to implement the National Record Locator Service, which provides secure access to information for 140 million patients and more than 2 billion interactions between patients and providers.

With NRLS, our electronic health record (EHR) providers in Illinois, Missouri, and Oklahoma can now see all the hospitals and clinics a patient has visited outside of SSM Health and know exactly where to reach out to retrieve critical information that improves the safety and quality of the care we deliver.

In total, the service gives more than 10,000 SSM Health clinicians in our hospitals and medical practice offices an extremely effective way to locate patient records and obtain a more complete view of the health of a patient, regardless of where the patient received care.

We’re working in partnership with Surescripts, a leading health information network, and Epic, the leader in electronic health records (EHR), to implement the NRLS. In addition, we’re connected to other health care organizations through Carequality, a public-private collaborative that helps transfer patient information to where it’s needed most by providing a member directory and standardizing specifications and rules for sharing.

NRLS provides a list of places the patient has been and then that list is sent to Carequality to request records from those organizations in a standard format that is displayed to our providers in Epic.

When a patient arrives in an SSM Health ED, hospital, urgent care, or physician office, the care team will have a way to access patient information from other providers, regardless of where they received that care or what EHR software was used.

In this way, the NLRS provides an advanced starting point with new patients or high-risk patients and makes it easier for our clinical teams to get acquainted with their prior health care. By having a more complete care history, we can make faster and better decisions, avoid reordering expensive tests, and help ensure that our patients receive the best care possible.

The best part is that our providers don’t have to ‘do’ anything to make this happen.  Both the query for the Record Locator and the query to Carequality happen behind the scenes and the information is already there when the doctor opens the patient’s Epic chart. It’s a big win-win for patients and providers.

In short, interoperability is not a buzz word at SSM Health. Rather, it’s becoming a way of life and a key method to help us continually create better patient outcomes.


Richard Vaughn, MDRichard Vaughn, MD, Chief Medical Information Officer for SSM Health, manages the advanced clinical decision support tools in SSM Health’s electronic health record and works with senior leadership to ensure business plans are supported by clinical information system design and implementation.