The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently announced five cooperative agreements with health information exchange organizations (HIEs) to help support state and local public health agencies in their efforts to respond to public health emergencies, including disasters and pandemics such as COVID-19. GaHIN is one of the five HIEs selected for the two-year cooperative agreements.
The HHS Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) is administering $2.5 million in funding from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Acts (CARES Act) signed by President Trump on March 27, 2020. The funding will support local health information exchanges (HIEs) under the Strengthening the Technical Advancement and Readiness of Public Health Agencies via Health Information Exchange (STAR HIE) Program.
Each of the five recipients will work to improve HIE services so that public health agencies can better access, share, and use health information during public health emergencies. These efforts will also support communities that are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19.
"Health information exchanges have long served important roles in their states and regions by helping health data flow to treat patients," said Don Rucker, MD, national coordinator for health information technology. "These STAR HIEs will help public health officials make real-time decisions during emergencies like fires, floods, and now, the COVID-19 pandemic.”
GaHIN 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 state-wide COVID-19 registry and expanding public health reporting and data enrichment for providers not connected to GaHIN.
Other HIEs selected for the HHS grants include:
- Health Current (Arizona)
- HealthShare Exchange of Southeastern Pennsylvania (HSX)
- Kansas Health Information Network, Inc. (KHIN) d/b/a KONZA
- Texas Health Services Authority
These five awards represent a range of activities across different geographic regions of the country. The cooperative agreements will include cross-recipient collaboration to leverage their collective expertise and ensure the sharing of implementation experience gained from the program. This will bolster the likelihood of success and enable better replicability of the projects throughout the country.