HIE Case Study: HIE for Public Health - Great Lakes Health Connect

Great Lakes Health Connect (GLHC) is Michigan’s leading Health Information Exchange (HIE). As a nonprofit resource, GLHC is committed to creating care-connected communities across Michigan. Their vision is to enhance patient experience, improve health outcomes, and reduce costs across the continuum of care.

GLHC offers the most comprehensive, flexible, and secure portfolio of HIE products and services in Michigan. While these tools are important, GLHC strives to be a community partner, implementing real solutions to the challenges facing healthcare providers. 

For this case study, George Bosnjak, Director, Sales & Business Development, and Julie Klausing, ‎Senior Director, Product, Integration & Operations, Great Lakes Health Connect were interviewed on the topic of leveraging HIE for the purpose of supporting public health.

GLHC’s current public health capabilities support transferring data from providers to state entities. Syndromic surveillance, immunization and reportable labs for providers are reported through the HIE to the state. A future project scope that is currently under review is to establish a cancer registry. 

They use HealthConnect, an InterSystems product, for their integration engine which allows them to receive feeds directly then push data to the appropriate State entities.

This project came to be because providers are required by law to report syndromic surveillance, immunization, and reportable lab data to the State to support early detection of disease outbreaks, allow immunizations to be tracked at a State level, and to track certain lab results to prevent wide spread health issues in the State. Prior to GLHC’s work in this area, many healthcare providers were reporting this data manually to the State by logging into portals, sending data via spreadsheets, or maintaining separate direct connections, and the like.  The newest use case for this data is the electronic retrieval of immunization data display directly into a provider’s EMR. GLHC fills the submission needs for providers and leverages their data sharing architecture to submit the data on behalf of the providers, keeping them in compliance with state regulations with a relatively simple project scope for the HIE to implement.&nbsp

When completing this scope of work, the State’s specifications on how the data should be provided needed to be followed. This meant that the HIE had to work to implement a small amount of validation to the header data included within the files, and some normalization was needed prior to pushing the data to the State. For example, the inclusion of facility name in the header information is required and GLHC was able to ensure that this specification was fulfilled.

Providing this service is low cost to the HIE as the integration engine simply directs data to another end-point which requires no additional vendor fees. The public service capability is an additional service for GLHC participating providers, and the cost is added to their participation fees. Therefore, there is supplementary revenue for the HIE in addition to the benefit to the consumer at minimal cost to GLHC, creating significant ROI.

The immunization query tool, which allows participating providers to query the State immunization repository and pull information immediately has improved clinician workflow, as they were previously required to log into the State system. Now they can navigate directly through the HIE.

With respect to this public health initiative, the biggest challenge faced by GLHC was that the State was unable to consume the data from the HIE. GLHC had to wait for the State to update their systems to be able to interpret this data. At first, the data feeds went to the State directly, however, now the data is routed to the State’s integration partner.The efficiencies gained by submitting providers has confirmed the value of the HIE. No complaints have been received from participants in the HIE who use this service.

Participation fees provided the funding for this public health scope of work. GLHC did not use any grants or other funding sources.

This scope of work has played a role in GLHC’s sustainability model, as participation fees include those fees collected in return for the service of results delivery integration. Participants view this additional service as an added benefit. GLHC’s financial model also includes an upfront connection fee for new participants.

HIMSS is a global, cause-based, not-for-profit organization focused on better health through information technology (IT). HIMSS leads efforts to optimize health engagements and care outcomes using information technology. The inclusion of an organization name, product or service in this publication should not be construed as a HIMSS endorsement of such organization, product or service, nor is the failure to include an organization name, product or service to be construed as disapproval. The views expressed in this white paper are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of HIMSS.


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