COVID-19 Pandemic: How Health Information Exchange is Bridging the Gap for Healthcare Organizations

During this time of crisis, it’s more important than ever that healthcare systems have actionable data that’s available when and where they need it. As a regional health improvement organization (RHIO), we at HealtheConnections understand how impactful information can be. We have the data and services required by public health and healthcare organizations to assist with their focus and direction during the pandemic.

As part of the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY), HealtheConnections has been working with the New York State Department of Health (NYS DOH) to provide surveillance data for developing statistical models. As COVID-19 began to spread, it became imperative for the DOH to understand the magnitude of what was taking place, along with forecasting for preparedness across the state. The health information exchanges (HIEs) in New York State were uniquely qualified to supply medical records that are captured in real-time, every day. HealtheConnections and other members of the SHIN-NY were able to react quickly to assist with this effort.

While addressing surveillance data with the DOH, HealtheConnections also enhanced its existing services to benefit participating organizations across our 26-county community. HealtheConnections expanded its alerting capabilities to notify healthcare facilities of COVID-19 testing results, with more than 25,000 alerts per day. These alerts save time by delivering patient test results directly to providers in a HIPAA-compliant environment. We’ve also added a self-service COVID-19 results report that offers participants a view into their patient population who have been tested for COVID-19. Each day, more than 1,300 users from 350 care organizations are accessing this report, for more than 6,000 views total every day. As the NYS DOH collects laboratory data from state and community labs throughout the state, HealtheConnections was able to integrate that data from more than 80 labs into our core suite of HIE services. Through these additional services and information, the HealtheConnections HIE portal saw a significant usage spike—3,000 unique users accessing more than 16,000 patients within just one week!

The COVID-19 pandemic response from RHIOs across the state is an excellent example of the critical role HIEs play in connecting healthcare systems. The continued growth of HIEs, along with closer collaboration with public health entities, has the potential to continue developing a well-networked healthcare system in New York State. The high volume of usage and positive reception by providers is proof: We have the information that healthcare professionals need, and they value HIE services that allow them to access the data easily. Robust, innovative HIEs are a core element within an all-encompassing healthcare system.