Supporting Our Frontline Healthcare Workers with HIE Image Sharing

eHealth Technologies Blog: Gary Larson, Executive Vice President & General Manager, HIE Solutions, eHealth Technologies

Two short months ago, I could not have imagined in my wildest dreams the dramatic changes that have fundamentally altered the lives of nearly every person on the face of earth due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While the next two-month period may not be as turbulent, it is likely that the summer months will be different than what we’re experiencing now – hopefully in a positive way!

I was attracted to work in the Health Information Exchange (HIE) arena well over a decade ago because of the exciting opportunity to change healthcare for the better. My involvement started with the ambitious program to build a nationwide care record service for the National Health Service in England in the early 2000’s. I have remained working in this field for many of the same reasons, but also because of my deep affinity for our HIE partners across the country. I admire their tireless, selfless dedication to the cause of enabling better clinical decision making, better outcomes, and greater efficiencies in our fragmented healthcare system.

Never have I felt this affinity more than I do now for the work that HIEs do during this COVID-19 crisis.

  • HIEs are fulfilling critical roles that support the front lines of the pandemic battle in ways that would be difficult to provide by any other mechanism. HIEs are providing alerts and notifications to care providers for patients who are suspected, cleared or confirmed to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19. Most facilitate reporting of COVID-19 clinical data to state and local health departments to assist with surveillance and management. Telehealth visits can assure that clinical information is available at the point of care, wherever it may be – thanks to the community-wide access to medical records provided by HIEs. As temporary hospitals are springing up in COVID-19 hotspots, HIEs can provide caregivers on the front line with immediate access to patient records to assist with diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
  • Medical imaging has emerged as a vital tool for diagnosing and treating COVID-19. X-ray and Computed Tomography (CT) imaging in particular have been the subject of considerable attention to identify the presence and severity of infection. So, regardless of how the next two months or two years turn out, it is a solid bet that both medical imaging and HIEs will be needed.

eHealth Technologies’ unique position at the intersection of these two domains will enable us to assist HIEs and the broader healthcare community to steer the way down the path to re-open our country. We want to do our part and are engaging with our HIEs to adapt and construct medical image sharing solutions that will positively contribute in this area.

That is the motivation behind our most recent white paper on this topic: What You Should Know: HIE-Based Image Sharing and the COVID-19 Pandemic. This paper outlines some of the workflows and use cases that can be adopted in conjunction with our HIE partners to make this journey a success.

I encourage you to review this information, share it with your teams, and then connect with me to discuss and exchange ideas. It will take many minds working together to handle the challenges that lie ahead for our healthcare system and heroic clinical teams during this pandemic.