The crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic revealed material, and in some cases debilitating, disconnects between information systems used by public health agencies, the clinical care delivery system, and social service organizations. As states and public health organizations look to optimize the surveillance systems that monitor communicable diseases in the aftermath of the pandemic, many are also looking for more connected, scalable, and holistic solutions that help them better address a host of other public health priorities, like health equity, health care access, climate impacts, and natural disasters.

Many Health Information Organizations (HIOs) and Health Data Utilities (HDUs) are well-positioned to support these public health needs. In preparation for the upcoming Health Data Leadership Institute (HDLI) panel, “Health Information Exchanges and Emerging Health Data Utilities: Critical Partners in Improving Public Health,” here are three collaborations worth exploring in California that have made an impact in public health.

Optimizing statewide disease surveillance

Manifest MedEx, California’s largest nonprofit HIO, began supporting the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) in 2022 through the Surveillance and Public Health Information Reporting and Exchange (SaPHIRE), a 24/7 solution designed to securely process reportable electronic lab results (ELR) from more than 400 labs and other entities that submit lab results to CDPH, streamlining the collection, analysis, and distribution of lab information statewide. 

Leaning on Manifest MedEx as a partner to not only build out and operate ELR technical infrastructure, but also to collaborate on data governance and provide staff with deep data and tech expertise, has made it easy for CDPH to expand the SaPHIRE scope, which now includes electronic case reporting (added in 2023). With SaPHIRE, CDPH can more quickly understand health trends across the state and respond to health needs. 

Tackling congenital syphilis, a growing public health crisis

San Bernardino County in California, the largest county in the U.S., has faced a 366 percent increase of pregnant patients exposed to congenital syphilis (CS) and an 891 percent increase of CS since 2013. In an effort to reduce cases, the San Bernardino County Department of Public Health (SBCDPH) developed a pilot program in partnership with Manifest MedEx to use admit, discharge, and transfer (ADT) notifications and access to patients’ updated longitudinal health records as public health tools.

Accessing these tools not only enables earlier intervention to ensure the completion of syphilis testing and treatment in the emergency department where patients from vulnerable populations may be more likely to seek care, but it also eliminates the need for nurse case managers to contact local hospitals to track infant deliveries, saving 30 to 60 minutes per case. You can read more about the work here. Like San Bernardino, San Joaquin County Public Health Services (SJCPHS) is also partnering with Manifest MedEx to gain access to timely, accurate health data and prevent increases in communicable and infectious diseases, including CS.

Accelerating vaccination efforts

Serving more than 91 percent of Medi-Cal recipients in California’s San Joaquin County, the Health Plan of San Joaquin (HPSJ) was committed to developing a strategic plan to target its most high-risk and underserved members as the COVID-19 vaccination rollout began across the state. Teaming up with Manifest MedEx, HPSJ was able to access comprehensive, sortable reports that included key member clinical data, as well as demographic data like race, ethnicity, and preferred language to help the health plan quickly identify members with high-risk conditions and comorbidities, understand their vaccination status, and target culturally appropriate outreach to improve vaccination rates.

By accessing these reports, HPSJ’s vaccination rate increased from 13 percent to 47 percent. This vaccination information is also stored within the HIO’s longitudinal records, allowing for easy confirmation of a patient’s vaccination status. 

Collaboration between HIOs and public health organizations is gaining momentum, especially with California’s larger Data Exchange Framework vision and the designation of nine Qualified Health Information Organizations in the state. There is an exciting future ahead fueled by the early successes of a connected clinical care delivery, social services, and public health system to provide equitable, whole-person care. As the framework continues to be built, the potential of health data networks to revolutionize public health and herald a new era of collaboration across health sectors is becoming a tangible reality. 

Learn more about the value of collaboration and partnerships at the Health Data Leadership Institute May 7-8, 2024 in Washington, DC. Learn more and register here


Erica Galvez

CEO - Manifest MedEx (MX)

Erica Galvez is CEO of Manifest MedEx (MX), California’s largest nonprofit health information organization, an... Read Bio

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