Leveraging Health Information Exchange to Support Public Health Situational Awareness: The Indiana Experience

Shaun J Grannis, Kevin Stevens, Ricardo Merriwether


Public health situational awareness is contingent upon timely, comprehensive and accurate information from clinical systems. Ad-hoc models for sending non-standard clinical information directly to public health are inefficient and increasingly unsustainable. Information sharing models that leverage Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) are emerging. HIEs standardize, aggregate and streamline information sharing among data partners, including public health stakeholders, and HIE has supported public health practice in Indiana for more than 10 years. To accelerate nationwide adoption of HIE-supported situational awareness processes, the CDC awarded three HIEs across the nation, including Indiana, New York and Washington/Idaho. The Indiana partners included Indiana University School of Medicine, Regenstrief Institute, Indiana Health Information Exchange, Indiana State Department of Health, Health & Hospital Corporation of Marion County, and Children’s Hospital Boston. Activities included augmenting biosurveillance processes, enabling bi-directional communication, enhancing automated detection of notifiable conditions, and demonstrating technological advances at national forums. HIE transactions destined for public health were enhanced with standardized clinical vocabulary and more complete physician contact information. During the 2009 H1N1 flu outbreak, the HIE delivered targeted public health broadcast messages to providers in Marion County, Indiana. We will review the partnership characteristics, activities, accomplishments and future directions for our health information exchange.

Keywords: health information exchange, situational awareness, biosurveillance, syndromic surveillance, influenza.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5210/ojphi.v2i2.3213

Online Journal of Public Health Informatics * ISSN 1947-2579 * http://ojphi.org