Health Information Exchanges: Transforming Health in Ohio

CLEVELAND - Today, the Ohio Department of Health (ODH) and Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine’s Weatherhead Institute for Family Medicine and Community Health are hosting the second annual Ohio Health Data Symposium, a meeting for research and public health experts. The collaboration’s theme is “Health Information Exchanges: Opportunities for Research and Public Health Improvement.”

Determined to change the chronically-low ranking of state health outcomes in areas such as obesity, tobacco use and infant mortality, Ohio is working to improve the health of its residents and the quality of health care while reducing costs. A key to modernizing the health care delivery system and improving the quality of service is a connected and powerful data system, such as the state’s Health Information Exchanges (HIEs), CliniSync and HealthBridge, two Ohio-based organizations with the mission of facilitating the adoption and implementation of health information technologies.

“Through the use of data held in health information exchanges, we can improve and extend the life of Ohioans,” said Pamela B. Davis, MD, PhD, dean of the School of Medicine and vice president for medical affairs, Case Western Reserve University.

With a centralized health information database for its 23 million citizens, Taiwan is an international leader in medical and financial data integration. Sharing the country’s best practices will be keynote Hung-Yi Chiou, PhD, vice president of Taipei Medical University. The meeting brings together subject-matter-expert speakers from around the state. In addition, panel discussions will highlight the success of Taiwan’s National Health Insurance and HIE applications; federal, state, and local perspectives on HIE; external best practices and collaborations; and other innovations.

“Without the HIEs as a gateway of information, we cannot accurately examine the health of a community,” said Theodore E. Wymyslo, MD, director of the Ohio Department of Health. “With more information, we can focus our resources to those most in need and move away from the blanket ‘one-size fits all’ approach to public health.”

Many health officials and researchers believe that technology is critical to the transformation from a health system based on volume into one based on value. The HIE compiles individual health data from clinical medicine and public health records, offering a more accurate picture of a population’s health and disease burden, identifying trends and risk factors. With a clearer picture of the health of the population, researchers can better pinpoint those at most risk and develop targeted health initiatives.

“HIE already has successfully impacted state and federal public health efforts,” according to David Kaelber, MD, PhD, MPH, chief medical informatics officer of the MetroHealth System and associate professor of internal medicine, pediatrics, epidemiology, and biostatistics at Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. “The MetroHealth System has used HIE to reduce the reporting time of reportable infectious diseases cases to the Ohio Disease Reporting System from what typically occurs in several weeks, but occasionally may takes month down to 24 hours or less, and saved the health care system tho=usands of dollars per year.”

“Further, MetroHealth now can report on suspected as well as confirmed cases of disease, e.g., pertussis, a highly contagious yet preventable respiratory disease. In addition, for the past six months, the MetroHealth System has been honored to lead the country in the use of HIE to detect and report suspected adverse vaccine reactions,” said Dr. Kaelber.

Founded in 1843, Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine is the largest medical research institution in Ohio and is among the nation's top medical schools for research funding from the National Institutes of Health. The School of Medicine is recognized throughout the international medical community for outstanding achievements in teaching. The School's innovative and pioneering Western Reserve2 curriculum interweaves four themes--research and scholarship, clinical mastery, leadership, and civic professionalism--to prepare students for the practice of evidence-based medicine in the rapidly changing health care environment of the 21st century. Nine Nobel Laureates have been affiliated with the School of Medicine.

Annually, the School of Medicine trains more than 800 MD and MD/PhD students and ranks in the top 25 among U.S. research-oriented medical schools as designated by U.S. News & World Report's "Guide to Graduate Education."

The School of Medicine is affiliated with University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center, MetroHealth Medical Center, the Louis Stokes Cleveland Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, and the Cleveland Clinic, with which it established the Cleveland Clinic Lerner College of Medicine of Case Western Reserve University in 2002.