Connecting public health officials

Connecting Regional Public Health Entities for Coordinated Care

COVID-19 Response 

HSX was one of five recipients of an award from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). The award is under the Strengthening the Technical Advancement and Readiness of Public Health Agencies via Health Information Exchange (STAR HIE) cooperative agreement program. In partnership with our local public health agencies, our members and our Board of Trustees’ Executive Committee, HSX developed a strategic portfolio of activities that closed gaps for our region’s public health response to COVID-19, prepared for future communicable disease threats, and improved HIE services available to support communities disproportionately impacted by COVID-19. 

Through the STAR HIE Program, HSX helped modernize and increase efficiency in our region’s ability to exchange data with public health agencies. HSX’s major accomplishments include:

  • Providing reports and indexed panel-based extractions to fill blind spots for public health agencies and member organizations. The reports included demographic and contextual clinical information, such as age, race, ethnicity, address, primary language, recent hospitalizations, vaccination status, COVID-19 risk score and mobility impairment to make patient information more actionable and try to better understand and prevent health inequities.
  • Creating a dashboard of emergency department and inpatient volumes to track COVID-19 admissions and discharges and help the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Office of Emergency Management understand patient movement and hospital capacity. 
  • Participating in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation COVID-19 Registry and facilitating use of the Delaware Valley COVID-19 Registry.
  • Participating in the CORHIO dashboard, a national COVID-19 demonstration project to assist with surveillance efforts and aggregate COVID case and vaccination data nationally.
  • Playing a key role in vaccination data exchange, especially with members not previously connected with state and local immunization registries. 
  • Exploring opportunities to better capture and improve social determinants of health data exchange to reduce health inequities.
  • Establishing new clinical data connections, including Electronic Lab Reporting (ELR) feeds to local and state agencies, connecting to the American Public Health Laboratory AIMS platform for Electronic Initial Case Report (eICR) communicable disease reporting, and implementing new continuity of care (CCD) feeds to further increase interoperability in the region.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a spotlight on HIEs and our capacity to connect the dots between various entities. The STAR HIE cooperative agreement opened doors and strengthened relationships with public health agencies, which are now onboarding as HSX members. Through this program, HSX enhanced the use of HIE data for public health purposes, worked with our agencies to identify their priorities, and establish governance to ensure these efforts can persist after this emergency passes.

Updated Public Health Agency Population Health Use Case

To support continued growth, HSX updated the existing Public Health Agency Population Health Use Case. It was revised so that the partnerships and opportunities HSX developed with various public health agencies during the COVID-19 pandemic could continue after the emergency declarations and the HIPAA waiver expire. The major updates include:

  • The ability to apply the use case to any public health authority (previously only the state and one local agency were named).
  • To expand the focus from short-term individual projects to include continuous data feeds, such as ELR and eICR.
  • Including other mandatory reportable conditions besides COVID-19.
  • Allowing member opt-out at the Use Case level rather than at the individual project level.

Beyond COVID-19

Working closely with public health agencies to identify priorities, HSX enhances their efforts by providing access to more complete and timely data beyond COVID-19. 

  • HSX is expanding ELR feeds to include many mandatory reportable conditions in addition to COVID-19.
  • HSX established a new Coroner/Medical Examiner’s Office Use Case to share data on decedents for both autopsy and mortality review committee purposes.

The Regional Community Health Needs Assessment

In partnership with the City of Philadelphia’s Department of Public Health and several HSX participants, HSX provided healthcare utilization reports for the Regional Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) to identify and prioritize community health needs.