August 19 Coalition Discussion with ONC and LANES

On August 19, the Connecting for Better Health Coalition was joined by John Rancourt, Director of the Interoperability Division at the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT (ONC), and Ali Modaressi, CEO of Los Angeles Network of Enhanced Services (LANES) for a discussion about some of the key public health use cases for health information exchange — and the path to improving California’s health data systems in the near future. 

The use cases, and argument, for improved health data infrastructure have never been more clear or urgent: the COVID-19 public health crisis, and related vaccine rollout, have illustrated how dire the need is — in California and across the country. 

To wit, the three principle use cases outlined in the discussion were: 

  • Identifying high risk patients who have not been vaccinated and notifying primary care providers
  • Assessing the variance of different vaccinations and outcomes
  • Assessing re-infection trends after vaccination

The shortcomings of health data systems in multiple states have been thoroughly reported, most recently in a Politico piece — in which California is mentioned as a state where the lack of health data interoperability undermined public health. This is as compared to, for example, CRISP in Maryland — whose CEO, David Horrocks, gave a presentation to our coalition on how their system improved public health in the early days of COVID, and is currently assisting the state in sharing vaccination data from the state registry back to providers and health plans for direct outreach.

LANES, as Dr. Modaressi noted, is doing strong work to gather key public health data on their own, from as many patients as possible, and has received an ONC STAR HIE grant to build out a connection to Los Angeles County Department of Public Health to share immunization data back directly to providers and plans. As he said, “We’re working with all patients, regardless of payers. They do receive the data from the state, but we’ve heard that it’s clumsy, or takes time, or is not complete. We are in discussion with them about how we might feed them the vaccination data on our patients.” 

He went on, “There’s so much that’s unknown about this virus, so we are looking forward to our collaboration with [Los Angeles County] DPH — and sharing knowledge through it. Healthcare is local, and when we work with DPH, they value those types of use cases.”

John Rancourt, giving the national perspective, commended the coalition’s work and the importance of our work: “Pulling the coalition together, knowing who’s working together to get to the outcomes public health wants to get to…if you have those capabilities, the type of data and information that’s generated is so valuable for public health.” 

Finally, he said, “Showing them that this is possible, and then delivering on that, resonates with public health.” 

The Connecting for Better Health Coalition is grateful for these discussions and will be following HIE access to statewide immunization records closely going forward. Please check back in regularly for updates on public health and HIE data sharing and collaboration.