ONC launched the Strengthening the Complex Progression and Readiness of General public Well being Agencies by way of Health Details Exchange (STAR HIE) Application in 2020 utilizing funding from the Coronavirus Support, Reduction, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act). The plan was expanded in 2021 to enhance support for endeavours to make improvements to vaccination information sharing among jurisdictional Immunization Information and facts Units (IIS) and HIEs. The West Virginia Well being Information Network (WVHIN) was amongst the 22 recipients that been given a mixed $20 million in money from ONC by way of the CARES Act.
We sat down with WVHIN’s Executive Director, Sonia Chambers, to study how the STAR HIE System served WVHIN assistance the state’s general public wellness agency exchange health and fitness data in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Responses have been edited for clarity.)
What was the STAR HIE Application funding utilized for?
ONC’s STAR HIE System actually served as a catalyst for a great deal of our COVID-19 things to do, equally as a result of the direct funding and by producing a nearer relationship concerning the WVHIN and the state’s Bureau for Community Wellbeing. In reality, the Bureau for Public Health have been the kinds who noticed the STAR HIE Plan Request for Proposal (RFP) and sent it to us. That engagement in between us and the Bureau for Public Wellness sparked larger coordination and collaboration which has further amplified during the pandemic.
The STAR HIE Method enabled us to make two vital applications to help with COVID-19 vaccine monitoring and outreach: (1) The ImmuTrack software to assist vendors and payers, and (2) the WVHIN Reporting Providers Warmth Maps to assist community health and fitness officials. The ImmuTrack resource enables companies to see their complete patient panel and the vaccination position of individuals people in one particular doc. The tool is searchable by dose, age, geography, race, and ethnicity and consists of serious situations for Medicaid patients. The exact same info can be fed into additional subtle methods. Formerly, providers experienced to question the state’s IIS on a affected person-by-affected person foundation, which is extremely wearisome and gradual.
The WVHIN Reporting Products and services Heat Maps display screen vaccine knowledge at a populace stage and may possibly be tailored in various strategies, such as by county, ZIP code, Census Tract, age, race, ethnicity, Centers for Condition Control and Avoidance (CDC) Company for Toxic Substances and Sickness References (ATSDR) Social Vulnerability Index, by full number or percentage compared to averages, and additional. As you can visualize, these kinds of maps have been really helpful in focusing on vaccine outreach attempts. The resulting stories have been utilised by the WV Bureau for General public Health, regional epidemiologists, community health departments, Federally Qualified Wellbeing Center (FQHCs), the Partnership for African American Church buildings (PAAC) and better instruction.
The two of individuals tools were being critical to the state’s remaining far better ready to offer with COVID-19 as the pandemic unfolded.
Figure 1: Unvaccinated people by county
Figure 2: Unvaccinated, Black individuals by county
What problems/issues existed and how did the STAR HIE Method funding help?
We had various challenges. When COVID-19 initial strike West Virginia, only 4 hospitals or hospital units in the condition were reporting COVID-19 lab final results to the state electronically. We experienced been operating with them on connecting to the Digital Lab Reporting (ELR) plan, but West Virginia’s ELR certification system is lengthy, having various months to comprehensive, and several hospitals experienced other priorities similar to engineering. Thanks to WVHIN’s existing, powerful relationships with hospitals, we have been equipped to spouse with the point out general public well being company to stand up 21 COVID-19-only lab feeds in hospitals in just two small weeks. We’re now performing on growing individuals feeds to entire ELR feeds so that we are much better prepared for the future substantial outbreak.
Another obstacle was race and ethnicity identification. It is apparent that minority populations are additional probably to be disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 and in the rapid scramble to carry out as a lot of checks as probable when the pandemic to start with began, race and ethnicity data was generally not captured. Nevertheless, we had been able to leverage demographic information from WVHIN’s current medical center and service provider knowledge feeds, which we connect with our Master Individual Index (MPI), to enable the condition reduce the percentage of unfamiliar race and ethnicity classification by fifty percent! We are also supplying this perform for vaccine distribution. The WVHIN Reporting Solutions Heat Maps were and continue on to be instrumental in pinpointing areas that are lagging in terms of vaccination charges. This permits us to do the job right with group corporations like the PAAC to interact communities of color and detect large-chance clients who have not nevertheless acquired a vaccination.
Knowledge cleanliness is another persistent obstacle since details is normally incomplete or regularly modifications. For illustration, lots of West Virginia citizens vacation to a bordering state like Ohio for treatment and vice versa. If a West Virginia resident had been to get a vaccination at a Walgreens in Ohio, that could pose challenges with incomplete or even duplicate details. Our MPI continues to be instrumental in matching vaccination information that’s inaccurate or incomplete, and/or merging duplicated entries.
How will you establish on this get the job done and what are some future jobs for WVHIN?
We’re setting up to grow ImmuTrack for use further than COVID-19 vaccines due to the fact it may perhaps be handy for other vaccinations like monkeypox or even childhood vaccines. We’ll also establish out the warmth maps to policymakers and community health and fitness officials to far better have an understanding of gaps in vaccination position relative to geographic area.
Not only was the STAR HIE Program funding instrumental in catalyzing our COVID-19 things to do, it also enabled us to reveal development which led to us acquiring two added CDC grants, (1) The Countrywide Initiative to Tackle COVID-19 Wellness Disparities Amid Populations at Higher-Threat and Underserved, Such as Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities grant and (2) The Vaccination Fairness and Prioritizing Populations Disproportionately Affected by COVID-19 grant, to continue on our perform. In addition, we are continuing to work with general public health and fitness officers and with IIS on details cleanse-up as portion of the Immunization Information Trade, Progression and Sharing (Thoughts) collaborative. We’re also leveraging CDC health and fitness disparities and vaccine fairness grants to deliver analytics on matters like breakthrough scenarios and reinfection charges. Also, we’re furnishing automatic studies that merge vaccine status, good COVID-19 checks post-vaccination, deaths, and any appropriate inpatient or outpatient visits.
We’re also discovering some get the job done related to social determinants of health and fitness (SDOH), precisely remaining able to exhibit referrals to neighborhood-primarily based organizations for things like foodstuff insecurity, transportation insecurity, etc. In the long run, that operate seeks to near the referral loop and give far more context about a patient’s general circumstance to a patient’s care workforce.
What job do you feel HIEs participate in in enhancing overall health?
Our practical experience in supporting the state’s Bureau for Community Overall health with COVID-19 response confirmed us that HIEs are very well-positioned to bridge the gaps inside our existing nationwide community wellness infrastructure. I imagine the biggest thing we have been in a position to display is that HIEs are nimble and flexible, two attributes which are unquestionably crucial in a time of crisis like a global pandemic.
HIEs have existing connectivity and powerful info and analytic capabilities which numerous local governments really don’t have. HIEs also have the ability to backfill patient matching and facts cleaning. For example, if another person moves and subsequently variations their title, we can aid figure that out. One other thing is the potential of HIEs to not only guidance public well being businesses to entry details but also then offer that facts back again to companies to boost affected individual treatment. HIEs perform a uniquely significant function.
Learn much more about WVHIN. Study additional about ONC’s STAR HIE System.