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In Less than 1 Month, NEHII Builds Comprehensive View of COVID-19


By mid-March, Nebraska was facing a challenge unlike any other. As the coronavirus spread through the Heartland, the need for all healthcare providers to quickly report data on hospital admissions, lab testing, and other medical events became vital to the state’s response. And because that information could fulfill its potential only if stored in one place, officials selected the Nebraska Health Information Initiative (NEHII) as the conduit. If there was any COVID-19 movement, the nonprofit health information exchange would know.

But NEHII didn’t stop there.

At the same time, the state and NEHII were working together to build a COVID-19 data-monitoring platform to accurately track cases and test results. With the help of InterSystems HealthShare, NEHII launched the dashboard in April. Suddenly, public health officials and care teams had access to coordinated data from across the state’s hospitals, clinics, and laboratories.
“We need to fill interoperability gaps and bring quality data together to facilitate a highly-coordinated and effective response to the pandemic,” Jaime Bland, CEO of NEHII, says. “The new data monitoring program augments our HIE to report accurate, knowledge-based data that informs life-saving decisions and community emergency prevention efforts at a time of unprecedented need.”

So how does the COVID-19 dashboard work? The tool enables NEHII to aggregate and link COVID-19 data into one consolidated view, which moves in real time, in lockstep with direct data feeds from Nebraska’s healthcare organizations and labs. The dashboard includes data on hospital admissions, discharges, and up-to-the-moment bed availability, along with COVID-19 recoveries, medical supplies, and lab test results buffered by insights into numerator/denominator. NEHII’s dashboard also ensures proper patient matching and forecasts trends, hotspots, and community spread.

Development of the dashboard began in March. It launched in just three weeks.

“It’s a great example of the kind of teamwork required to bring us through this pandemic, and illustrates the tremendous value of having comprehensive health information for rapid decision making,” notes Don Woodlock, head of healthcare solutions for InterSystems.

Through its unified health record and embedded intelligence, InterSystems HealthShare provided the foundation for NEHII’s COVID-19 dashboard, working with solutions from NextGate and KPI Ninja to bust complex data silos.

As Nebraska’s number of confirmed COVID-19 cases climbed toward 10,000, physicians gained immediate access to test results to better inform treatments. Public health officials obtained community-level data to know which decisions to make and when. And the public found some peace of mind.

“NEHII’s response to COVID-19 reduces gaps in public health data,” writes Sara Howard, a state senator, “and uses only COVID-19 patient data to ultimately keep Nebraskans healthy during this time of a worldwide pandemic."

This story originally appeared the May 29, 2020 – HealthShare Connections News Flash No.2: COVID-19 Pandemic newsletter

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