Feb 01 2021

How Colorado’s HIE Launched a COVID-19 Data Dashboard

CORHIO taps existing technology to provide real-time updates to stakeholders across the state.

When COVID-19 began to spread across the United States in March 2020, one of the biggest challenges for health systems and public health agencies was tracking just how far — and how fast — the disease was moving. For health information exchanges (HIEs) such as the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization, this work was in their wheelhouse. These state-level entities enable real-time, secure access to various types of health information from hospitals, providers and labs.

“We were uniquely positioned to aggregate and display data without the need to establish new connections or implement manual processes,” says CORHIO CIO Deanna Towne. Nor did the effort require investments in new technology, because the organization was already using Tableau for data visualization, Okta for authentication support and Verato for identity management.

Real-Time Data Is Helping Statewide COVID Reporting

On March 20, CORHIO began gathering requirements for its COVID-19 data analytics dashboards. By May 12, the dashboards were live and were made available to first responders and other groups, along with the organization’s usual users. Ordinarily, HIEs receive five data feeds from participating organizations: admission, discharge and transfer data; lab results; radiology images; transcriptions; and Continuity of Care Documents. Data is sent based on HL7 standards, and feeds are updated in real time. Data feeds come from CORHIO’s network of 67 hospitals, 7,200 office-based clinical professionals and 12 labs. All told, the organization has data on 7.7 million unique patients, Towne says.

For the COVID-19 dashboard, CORHIO focused specifically on lab results: positive, negative or unknown. Data sets were broken down by the different types of COVID-19 tests, such as molecular and antigen tests. CORHIO also took the extra step to dedupe the data, because a single test could provide two or more results (for instance, one for the physician’s order and one for the lab test itself).

“We already had the pipes established and the data coming in,” says Towne. “Our work focused on sorting and filtering the components of COVID testing ... so users could sort it in ways that were meaningful to them.”

RELATED: See how a data strategy helped the Mayo Clinic respond to COVID-19.

Okta Supports Security for COVID Data Dashboards

The organization created two dashboards. The patient-level dashboard, available only to HIPAA-covered entities, enables a drill-down view and the ability to export data as .csv files. The population health dashboard provides a higher level, summary view and is intended for policymakers, Towne says. “A lot of the dashboards that are publicly available are based on manually updated processes,” she says. “The more you can use the data without human intervention, the better it is for planning.”

Because data security is a “core expectation” for the work of HIEs, as Towne notes, CORHIO deployed its existing Okta authentication support tool to provide users with access to the COVID-19 dashboards. Once an organization becomes a member of CORHIO, leadership authorizes certain individuals to access data feeds. From there, access is enabled through Okta’s standard account provisioning process, says Towne. This gives CORHIO the flexibility to meet the use cases of diverse stakeholders, including hospitals, public health organizations, emergency medical services and community groups.

Creating the COVID-19 dashboards was “the tip of the iceberg” in approaching data analytics for managing the pandemic, Towne says. In evaluating next steps, she adds, the goal is to ensure that the organization and its partners can build something that’s both unique and functional.

“HIEs are already positioned to do a lot of this work,” she says. “We have already invested in this.”

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