ONC announces winners of $2.5M in Star HIE funding

The innovation grants for state and regional health information exchanges will help them innovate their data sharing capabilities during public health emergencies – from pandemics to wildfires.
By Mike Miliard
08:51 AM
United States HIE data exchange, connected dots of light on map of North America

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT on Wednesday announced today five new cooperative agreements to health information exchange organizations under its Strengthening the Technical Advancement and Readiness of Public Health Agencies via Health Information Exchange, or STAR HIE program.

The funding, totaling $2.5 million, is meant to help HIEs boost their ability to help public health agencies access, share and use health information during emergencies such as the ongoing pandemic, the California wildfires, hurricanes and more – with a special focus on communities that have been disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.

The funding, earmarked from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Acts, or CARES Act, signed in March as a response to the pandemic, will be disbursed to five HIEs:

  • Georgia Health Information Network, or GaHIN Georgia Health Information Network will support the Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia Department of Community Health to better access, share and use electronic health information, especially data from populations underserved and/or disproportionately affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. This will include increasing the reporting to a statewide COVID-19 registry and expanding public health reporting and data enrichment for providers not connected to GaHIN.
  • Health Current The Arizona HIE will support the state's Department of Health Services by improving the timeliness, accuracy and completeness of hospital reporting of key COVID-19 healthcare data, including facility hospitalization metrics, personal protective equipment inventories and ventilator inventory and utilization. Health Current will also seek to reduce hospitals and health system burden related to state and federal reporting requirements by using the HIE as a data intermediary. 
  • HealthShare Exchange of Southeastern Pennsylvania, or HSX HealthShare Exchange will modernize the region’s pandemic response with the use of automated APIs, supporting the Philadelphia Department of Public Health and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. HSX will also facilitate public health agency use of the Delaware Valley COVID-19 Registry, and create new clinical data connections based on public health agency priorities.
  • Kansas Health Information Network KHIN's KONZA team will expand the number of providers participating in the HIE, enhance lab data that is already being exchanged and combine it with existing HIE data for public health reporting, and add additional information to its real-time alerting platform for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment. 
  • Texas Health Services Authority The Texas Health Services Authority, in partnership with Healthcare Access San Antonio (or HASA), a regional HIE covering multiple areas of the Lone Star State, a local hospital partner, and Audacious Inquiry, will conduct a proof-of-concept pilot to demonstrate a real-time automated exchange of hospital capacity and other situational-awareness data through APIs using HL7's FHIR spec. This improved reporting will support the Texas Department of State Health Services.

ONC first announced the Star HIE program and opened it to applicants in August.

"State and local HIEs play a unique role in their communities by uniting health information from many different sites of service, including providers, hospitals, nursing homes, clinical laboratories, and public health departments, making them a natural fit to deliver innovative, local 'last mile' approaches to strengthen our overall public health response," said National Coordinator for Health IT Dr. Don Rucker at the time.

In a recent HIMSS webinar, I spoke with leaders from three state HIEs about the challenges and the opportunities for accelerated innovation posed by health emergencies such as this COVID-19. We discussed how these exchanges are serving as key mechanisms for public health reporting, how their dashboards help get the right data to the right providers at the right time and how their care coordination capabilities are valuable for managing social determinants of health and helping underserved communities.

One of the panelists on that discussion is the chief information officer of Arizona's Health Current – which in addition to its recent Star HIE funding also announced this week a new partnership with Denver-based CORHIO, with the goal of building out a bigger regional exchange that could be "the largest health data utility in the West."

"Health information exchanges have long served important roles in their states and regions by helping health data flow to treat patients," said Rucker of the new ONC funding winners. "These STAR HIEs will help public health officials make real-time decisions during emergencies like fires, floods, and now, the COVID-19 pandemic."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: mike.miliard@himssmedia.com

Healthcare IT News is a publication of HIMSS Media.

More regional news

(Photo courtesy ChristianaCare)

Pain management therapy demonstration, Airrosti low-code EHR

Pain management therapy demonstration at Airrosti. (Credit: Airrosti)

Want to get more stories like this one? Get daily news updates from Healthcare IT News.
Your subscription has been saved.
Something went wrong. Please try again.