The whole world is utilizing the best in class technology behind COVID-19 containment strategies, but to overcome the pandemic effects there is a sincere need to improve interoperability and timely sharing of key data related to medical testing, contact tracing, detecting and acting immediately on new coronavirus outbreaks.
Along with technology and strategy, effective collaboration of public health authorities with private health care providers, laboratories, and community-based organizations, plays a successful role in delivering care. Synchronizing all three to conduct medical testing, effective contact tracing, and quickly distinguishing new patterns of COVID-19 expansion will help in identifying new ways to improve all of these activities. Improving these factors is crucial as the world begins to open shortly.
Here are some of the immediate possible ways to improve interoperability and exchange of key data, which will enable public health programs to work more effectively with private health care providers, clinical laboratories, and other critical partners in COVID-19 containment efforts.
- Improvement in Commercial Lab Reporting
Lab reporting of positive COVID-19 patients is a cornerstone of public health surveillance. However, many of these laboratory results are missing with essential data, including basic patient address or zip code, which is the least basic information used to identify the infection clusters, disease hotspots, and contact cases to complete the investigations, and match patient information, to build supportive care quality network.
Firstly, there is an opportunity to use existing systems to improve the flow of key data to public health. Just by adding ‘ask at order entry’ fields to capture key demographics will ensure the bridge between electronic health records, laboratory information management systems, and commercial laboratories. These will also support the public health response to prioritize solutions that has broad applicability to all data sources.
On the other hand, more scalable solution that allows labs to use application programming interface (API) to request providers for the patient’s commonly missing data elements such as, race/ethnicity, phone number, address, medical record number + DOB or payer + subscriber number — either directly to provider EMRs or through Health Information Exchanges (HIEs).
- Enhancement in Case Investigations with Clinical Data
Case investigations often starts with attempting to locate clinical data for the patient’s course of illness, additional conditions, and demographics. This is currently categorized as a burdensome and a difficult process concerning the COVID-19 epidemic, because most of the health departments have to rely on manual queries, and some have been requesting logins to individual hospital EHRs even when they are interoperable.
Over the past few years, national interoperability networks have well emerged to accelerate secure clinical data exchange between providers trusted electronic framework. Interoperable networks sharing required data, enables direct support to the treatment of patients.
iPatientCare’s trusted framework primarily provide standards and governance for data exchange.
- Enhance Use of the National Syndromic Surveillance Program (NSSP)
Syndromic surveillance method supports the detection of individual and population health indicators that are available before confirmed diagnoses are made. It provides valuable insights into tracking the COVID-19 outbreak.
There are few challenges with data-sharing agreements, governing the flow of syndromic surveillance data between state and federal health officials. Therefore, there have been parallel federal efforts – “national coronavirus surveillance systems” which tracks the flow of patients in emergency departments from private-sector databases, resulting in duplication of efforts and data inconsistencies within state and local health officials.
There are also several technical changes to the Syndromic Surveillance that will improve the accuracy and consistency of reported data. Good implementation of technical changes will enable fresh start for Syndromic Surveillance messaging standard. Afterward, it could be rolled out to all vendors as part of the Promoting Interoperability program.
However, enhancements to NSSP will allow a single system to be used to track multiple types of healthcare events now and in the future. Using a single, consistent system will effectively improve the epidemiological capacity.
Bringing federal, state, and local lawmakers on the same page to improve data exchange and interoperability, will help us get through the current crisis of coronavirus and prepare us better for the next one.
If you are also struggling to enable your technology framework with interoperability standards to communicate, exchange data, and use the information, then you must have a look at iPatientCare’s easy and secure Interoperability software.