Many years ago, before the advent of electronic medical records in every office, HealthBridge was formed to provide a unique and valuable service to the medical community: the delivery of health information across systems and across providers as a health information exchange (HIE). It still performs that special role as a service line of The Health Collaborative following their 2015 merger, connecting the entire community with its network of shared information. But in the past few years, the community has slowly come to realize that this mass of information from all sources provides a pool from which an amazing amount of collective knowledge can be gleaned.

Enhancing data sharing and driving positive outcomes
The Health Collaborative recognized the power and possibility contained in that data, and responded by creating a data governance committee to manage its availability, usability, integrity, and security. The committee is made up of a diverse representation from health system leadership, public health officials, health plans, local community agencies, and healthcare industry experts. It is intended to be a vehicle for determining community-wide needs and desires for data use, so information will be complete, accessible, and available to all.

In just two short years, the committee has enabled data sharing enhancements that continue to drive positive healthcare outcomes in our region. Now, as we look to the future of exchanging healthcare data in much more granular pieces, a closer look at the many innovative possibilities for the use of this information is needed.

The changing landscape of health IT law
To that end, the governance committee hosted a data sharing conference and panel discussion around“The Changing Landscape of Health IT Law” on August 8th, 2016. Held at the offices of law firm Frost Brown Todd, our panel of regional and national health IT experts led the conversation around relevant and timely topics such as: HIPAA compliance and its role in data protection; Ohio, Kentucky, & Indiana health IT laws; and a vision for a future data governance model. Moderated by Jason W. Buckner, SVP Informatics at The Health Collaborative, panelists included:

Scott Afzal – Senior Advisor, Chesapeake Regional Information System for Our Patients (CRISP); Director of Health Information Systems, Audacious Inquiry
Claudia Allen – General Counsel & Chief Privacy Officer, The Health Collaborative
Karen Chrisman – Privacy Officer and Staff Attorney, Kentucky Office of Health Benefit and Information Exchange
Chad Eckhardt – Attorney, Frost Brown Todd
John P. Kansky – President & CEO, Indiana Health Information Exchange

Looking to the future
Our panel of experts spoke with an audience of leaders in the healthcare community including privacy attorneys, security officers, chief information officers, and data-sharing decision makers, to introduce better ways of leveraging The Health Collaborative’s HealthBridge services. They talked about new ways of aggregating and analyzing stored data, and how they can improve patient care and benefit HIE members across our region.

Together the group explored how existing health data could be used in innovative ways to answer questions our healthcare providers might have about our community’s health.  The Maryland (CRISP) and Indiana HIE representatives illustrated their member organizations’ data-sharing processes, and explored how we might adapt them to our own data governance best practices as a region.

As the committee continues to evaluate and revise its approach to handling and sharing protected data, HealthBridge and The Health Collaborative continually seek ways to meet and support the data needs of our HIE customers. HealthBridge subscribers in the healthcare provider community now have a unique opportunity to understand the full picture of Cincinnati healthcare, and to formulate and test quality improvement initiatives with the use of a broad and comprehensive database. Together, we are looking to the future to enhance existing practices while developing a new data governance approach for our region.