Leveraging Interoperability During the Pandemic
The eHealth Exchange active in all 50 states, is the oldest and largest national health information network in the U.S. Through its “one connection-to-many” model, eHealth Exchange is the principal network that connects federal agencies and non-federal organizations, including over 75% of U.S. hospitals and tens of thousands of clinics, to share patient records to better treat patients and coordinate care. The eHealth Exchange also supports public health reporting, quality reporting, and disability and insurance determinations.
eHealth Exchange leverages InterSystems HealthShare™ Managed Solutions to power its information exchange, scale its network and introduce additional services such as push notifications and discrete data-level queries using HL7 Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR®).
One such service known as “Broadcast Queries” allows a participant to search for patient data across all or a group of the eHealth Exchange participants with one request. This capability, while key to informed patient care for eHealth Exchange participants on an average day, has been especially valuable during the COVID-19 pandemic, where eHealth Exchange has been instrumental in providing access to patient history and records that aren’t always available or otherwise known, and are sometimes needed urgently.
Another example is the Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies (PULSE), a nationwide health IT disaster response platform. With its eHealth Exchange connection, authorized, volunteer clinicians in makeshift “pop-up” clinics and elsewhere can use PULSE to retrieve detailed patient medical records for more informed care. At a time when seconds and minutes matter, the eHealth Exchange and PULSE access provides information critical to patient care through a nimble, easy to understand system with access to patient health data (e.g., medications a patient is taking) from traditional EHRs. This platform is now being leveraged by public health agencies as part of a coordinated pandemic response.
Another enhancement eHealth Exchange has enabled during the pandemic — and which it plans to continue after — is access to patients’ advance directive documents, across U.S. health systems and temporary hospitals. While personal health care goals have always been important, this information is even more critical today when hospitals and other care settings find they may need to restrict visitor access, leaving patients without advocates in the room and potentially unable to speak for themselves. Digital access can be vital given isolation and contamination fears. Hospitals, health systems, and others treating patients can query MyDirectives (listed in the eHealth Exchange directory as ADVault/MyDirectives), an eHealth Exchange network participant. If a patient has an advance care planning document on file, it will be pulled into EHRs to empower care givers with information about treatment preferences and/or end-of-life wishes.
This story originally appeared the May 29, 2020 – HealthShare Connections News Flash No.2: COVID-19 Pandemic newsletter