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Health information exchange assists Georgia providers in COVID-19 tracking and testing

by Cerner Corporation

Published on 11/20/2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic began in the U.S., health leaders knew timely collaboration and data sharing would be paramount. Executives needed to increase providers’ visibility to COVID-19 testing and results while providing data about the pandemic and impacted communities. The Georgia Regional Academic Community Health Information Exchange (GRAChIE), which leverages Cerner’s health information exchange (HIE), helped provide that COVID-19 data to health systems.

“We were able to stand things up quickly,” said Tara Cramer, executive director. “We reached out to health systems that were in the throes of things to let them know we are here to help.”

GRAChIE worked with connected members, including a state-designated COVID-19 reference lab, to forward test orders and results to GRAChIE, then on to member organizations. That allows GRAChIE’s members to view a summary of COVID-19 health data from other connected partners. It also allows non-member providers to access patient health information from their participating members. 

“We offered access to our web portal for any clinician in the state who wants to use it right now,” said Cramer. 

GRAChIE also partnered with the Georgia Hospital Association to deliver COVID-19 test results to the event notification system GA Notify, which in turn sends alerts to local health departments and other subscribers based on patients’ ZIP codes. 

“Some health departments use the information for contract tracing,” said Cramer. “Others use it for internal and local data reporting, while some of them are using the information to reach out to local providers. We’ve worked with artificial learning to determine the ZIP code the patient lives in and trigger an alert to the health department of that ZIP code.”

With persistent and surprising new challenges arising from the pandemic, leaders at GRAChIE are fine-tuning both the portal and notification system. GRAChIE also plans to launch a dedicated display of COVID-19-related tests and results for any given patient, as part of the clinician’s view.

“The goal is to get ahead of things,” said Cramer. “We’ve learned that we have to move quickly. It’s taught all of us that it’s okay to implement and tweak in action.”