In late August, Civitas Networks for Health hosted their annual conference to convene health data exchange leaders from across the country working to use data in their communities to transform health care delivery, advance equity, and improve health outcomes. The 2023 conference was themed Public-Private Partnerships that Inspire Health Transformation to showcase innovative partnerships driving interoperability. Lisa Bari, CEO of Civitas Networks for Health, joined Connecting for Better Health (C4BH) on August 24th to share her conference highlights, which included the many workshops and unconference style sessions that fostered real-time collaboration and important discussion to share innovative solutions to pressing data sharing issues.
Daniel Chávez, executive director of Serving Communities Health Information Organization (SCHIO) also joined Timi Leslie of C4BH to share key takeaways from their Civitas conference session, The Power of Data Sharing and Women, Infants, and Children (WIC). Their presentation with Priti Rane, director of nutrition services at San Francisco Department of Public Health, focused on tackling challenges to share data with WIC programs to address enrollment barriers.
WIC is a federal program administered by local agencies through the U.S. Department of Agriculture to support low-income pregnant, postpartum women, and infants and children up to the age of 5 that are nutritionally at-risk with supplemental foods, health care referrals, and nutrition education. Data sharing with WIC is often limited by privacy and consent requirements, which hinders program referral workflows and enrollment among eligible families. Many attendees of the session shared that they were involved in health information exchanges (HIEs), but very few reported that they were actively sharing data with their local WIC agencies.
Chávez and Leslie highlighted that one-way data sharing workflows can operate under current regulations to improve WIC referrals, but regulatory changes at the federal level should also be pursued to help local health systems enroll WIC eligibles in services. The ultimate goal for the future of WIC and data sharing is to streamline processes for families, providers, and WIC staff. Lessons learned from the session to carry-out this work include:
- Start by focusing on consent, referrals, and EHR access
- Convene key players to address issues and find solutions
- Prioritize WIC staff training and obtaining buy-in for new workflows
Civitas Networks for Health will be hosting their annual conference next year in Detroit, Michigan from October 15-17, 2024.