HealthInfoNet Supports CDC Program to Demonstrate the Preventive Care Value of HIEs

Agilex, a leading provider of mission and technology solutions to the healthcare industry and public sector, announced today that Maine’s Health Information Exchange (HIE) is participating in the Demonstrating the Preventative Care Value of Health Information Exchanges program. Agilex is leading this first-of-a-kind initiative for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program is establishing technical standards and protocols that HIEs can use to report de-identified, population-level preventative care data to public health officials.

Maine was one of the first states to develop an HIE, which went live in 2009 and is operated by HealthInfoNet.  It was chosen as the first HIE to participate in the program because of its organizational maturity and technology leadership. Today, close to 80% of all Maine residents have a record in the system. These records can include visit histories, lab results, radiology reports, allergies, medications, diagnoses, immunizations and hospital discharge summaries.

“We are excited to have HealthInfoNet participate in this important program,” said Dr. Taha Kass-Hout, Director of CDC’s Division of Informatics Solutions and Operations. “Our goal is to establish the role that leading HIEs can play in advancing key preventative care initiatives. We believe that by making information on existing clinical quality measures available on an aggregate basis, we can help public health officials at the state and local levels better understand the unique population health challenges in their community. This specific program will work to create the technical infrastructure needed to transmit this data on a secure and reliable basis to state and local jurisdictions.”

The program uses the clinical quality measures that healthcare providers must report to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) to meet federal meaningful use requirements.  As an example, these measures include the percentage of diabetics with sugar levels under control and the percentage of adult hypertension patients whose blood pressure was checked during their most recent medical visit. By aggregating these measures across a population, public health officials can better identify trends and develop more effective interventions.

The Demonstrating the Preventative Care Value of Health Information Exchanges program focuses specifically on the thirteen clinical quality measures related to cardiovascular conditions. Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease and stroke, is the leading cause of death in the United States with one out of every three deaths attributable to it. To reduce its risk and impact, CDC is promoting a series of preventative steps known as ABCDS. They include appropriate Aspirin therapy, Blood pressure control, Cholesterol control, Diabetes control, and Smoking cessation. Reporting on these clinical quality measures can help track adherence with these preventative treatments.

HealthInfoNet is using an open-source application called popHealth to de-identify, aggregate and securely transmit clinical quality measures to the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (Maine CDC).  Sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC), popHealth was developed to automate reporting of meaningful use measures from a provider’s electronic health record system while ensuring de-identification of the transmitted data.  The application was selected for this program due to its ability to create population-level data that has been de-identified at both the patient and provider level.  This population-level data can be used to inform statewide public health and heart disease prevention strategies.

“This program will provide us with a clearer picture of cardiovascular disease incidence and treatment in the state of Maine. Using this information, we can implement more targeted and effective approaches to prevention and disease management,” said Dr. Sheila Pinette, Director of the Maine CDC. “We are pleased to support HealthInfoNet in their participation in this program and believe this program will further improve public health here in Maine.”

“Supporting public health has been part of HealthInfoNet’s mission from the beginning. We currently automate mandated reporting of communicable diseases to the Maine CDC,” said Dev Culver, HealthInfoNet’s CEO. “We’re thrilled to be the first statewide HIE to participate in this program, and we’re excited to provide further value to public health efforts here in Maine and across the nation.”

To support its participation in the program, HealthInfoNet also implemented the CONNECT solution. CONNECT is an open source platform used by HIEs and other providers to share data externally with other authorized entities via the Nationwide Health Information Network (NwHIN).

“We are delighted to partner with HealthInfoNet on this program as they’ve been a true innovator in terms of health information exchange,” said Larry Albert, president of Agilex’ healthcare sector business. “Extracting meaningful and potentially actionable information from the clinical data archives of our nation’s HIEs is important. For the epidemiology field, this can enable significant advances in such areas as pharmacovigilance and comparative effectiveness. This project underscores the critical role that health IT must play within our healthcare community.”

Agilex is managing the Demonstrating the Preventative Care Value of Health Information Exchanges program under contract with CDC. The company expects to integrate additional HIEs, integrated delivery networks and other providers into the program.