Health Information Exchanges and Public Health

In healthcare, access to data is incredibly important whether it’s for an individual patient or to understand the scope of a widespread disease.  Public health organizations are often concerned with the latter so local healthcare can take care of the former.

Providers report information about diseases to public health organizations, but as it stands now, the process can be a bit sloppy.  Between interoperability concerns, reliance on paper, and inconsistent reporting requirements, it’s no wonder that the data exchange process is difficult.  Not even many EHRs can transfer data to public health departments.

So what is a provider to do in the face of these issues?

In an interview with Healthcare IT News, research scientist Brian Dixon says that Health Information Exchanges, or HIEs, are a great way to enhance data sharing capabilities.  HIEs can be either public or private, but all serve the goal of facilitating “access to and retrieval of clinical data to provide safe, more timely, efficient, effective, equitable, patient-centered care.” The information gathered will subsequently be helpful in analyzing health trends across broader populations.

These exchanges can take on the task of examining regional laws that cover an expansive area, giving providers a single entity to look to for guidelines.  In terms of standardization, they can also standardize data into a common format suitable for submission to public health organizations.  Because of their familiarity with a variety of health systems, HIEs can also assist in EHRs and public health interfacing with one another.

Interoperability is destined to be a buzzword for years to come and will require a level of cooperation to become more of a reality.  Agnostic, third-party systems may be a way forward so long as healthcare systems see the benefit of collective data contributions.

Extract knows that healthcare organizations struggle with large volumes of paper and getting the information they need in the right place quickly and accurately.  We aim to reduce this burden by using advanced OCR and machine learning to turn incoming documents into actionable data.  If you’d like to learn more about how we can automate your incoming document handling process, please reach out today.


About the Author: Chris Mack

Chris is a Marketing Manager at Extract with experience in product development, data analysis, and both traditional and digital marketing.  Chris received his bachelor’s degree in English from Bucknell University and has an MBA from the University of Notre Dame.  A passionate marketer, Chris strives to make complex ideas more accessible to those around him in a compelling way.