Health Information Exchanges are the Key to Unlocking COVID-19 Prevention Efforts

Health Information Exchanges are the Key to Unlocking COVID-19 Prevention Efforts


Health care organizations across the nation are scrambling to address the coronavirus outbreak. What is desperately needed is real-time clinical information from the region to understand the risk, prevalence and characteristics of COVID-19 cases. With the rapidly evolving pandemic situation and the declaration of a National Emergency, Health Information Exchanges (HIE) are the key to unlocking COVID-19 prevention efforts by bridging the data gaps to bring real-time clinical insights from the region.

Identifying Patients at Higher Risk

According to the World Health Organization, there are clinical risk factors of COVID-19:

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Lung disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Cancer

COVID-19 analytics on a single data source, like an Electronic Health Record (EHR), typically represents a limited view of the patient’s medical history, thus not fully representing pre-existing conditions and risk factors. Further, it is not in aggregated form to support broad public health efforts lead by national, regional and local authorities.

HIE-driven COVID-19 analytics provide real-time clinical information about patient demographics, conditions, encounters, medications and laboratory results. Analytics on top of HIE data overcomes the single-EHR limitations by providing real-time information that meets diverse stakeholder needs, whether that be real-time bed status for EMS/first responders or aggregated testing information for the state.

Payers, systems, providers and government can use HIE COVID-19 analytics to identify the subpopulations at higher risk. Rather than telling everyone over the age of 60 to stay at home, HIEs can identify those patients that are above 60 years of age and have pre-existing conditions that place them at greater risk:

Given that we also know that elderly with advanced illness and frailty conditions are more susceptible, you can use HIE analytics to identify patients with underlying frailty conditions, even if their medical diagnoses do not always capture the risk potential.  

Supporting Accurate Testing and Diagnosing

Government has spent the past weeks focused on procuring test kits to understand the prevalence of COVID-19 in our nation. Given a myriad of obstacles, concerns remain regarding the availability and use of testing and subsequently, the diagnosing of COVID-19. New literature has identified common symptomology and lab indicators that can be used to support accurate testing, or at least the appropriate diagnosing of the disease. HIEs can provide patient-level reports that pin point patients who are displaying similar symptoms as COVID-19 (fever, cough, shortness of breath) or flag patients with abnormal test results that match COVID-19 cases.

Unexpectedly shifting to supporting a national pandemic requires swift and effective action to make a preventative impact on COVID-19. At a time when our nation needs it the most, this is the time to demonstrate the unique value HIEs can have on impacting community health outcomes.


BBC. (2020, February 18). Coronavirus: Largest study suggests elderly and sick are most at risk. BBC News.

Bendix, A. (2020, February 29). Coronavirus patients with heart disease have a 10% death rate. Business Insider.

Fan J, Liu X, Pan W, Douglas MW, Bao S. Epidemiology of 2019 novel coronavirus disease in Gansu Province, China, 2020. Emergency Infection Disease

Renee Towne

About the Author
Renee Towne
VP of Population Health at KPI Ninja, Inc.
Renee provides operational leadership of quality initiatives at KPI Ninja. Towne has a background in occupational therapy, education and experience in operational excellence across a variety of healthcare domains. Based on prior experience as a clinician that drove outcomes patient by patient, she is leaving a larger footprint by improving health care more comprehensively, population by population.

About KPI Ninja
KPI Ninja is a data analytics company that helps healthcare organizations accelerate their quality, safety, and financial goals with a unique combination of software and service. We are differentiated by our signature mix of technology, performance management consulting and healthcare expertise. We don’t merely offer software solutions but work shoulder to shoulder with clients to help them draw on the power of analytics and continuous improvement methodologies to become more efficient. In harmony with our data-centered ethos, we truly believe that our success is strongly co-related with yours.

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