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Georgia HIE Receives Grant for SDOH Interoperability Pilot Program

The state-designated HIE will use the $200,000 grant to demonstrate the feasibility of a closed-loop referral service for SDOH interoperability.

Aetna, a CVS Health company, has awarded Georgia’s state-designated health information exchange (HIE) $200,000 for a pilot project to drive social determinants of health (SDOH) interoperability.

The Georgia Health Information Network (GaHIN) will use the funding to demonstrate the value of a closed-loop referral service for care coordination between healthcare and community-based organizations. Aetna will be the first adopter of the program.

“An individual’s health is deeply influenced by a range of social determinants of health (SDOH) that, in addition to medical care, include access to food, housing, transportation, and more,” Sonya Nelson, division president at Aetna Medicaid, said in a public release. “A robust, integrated social care network that ensures patients referred for services receive the needed support is central to improving outcomes.”

Healthcare providers caring for vulnerable patients may make referrals for social care services, but often patients do not access the services due to various social determinants of health. For instance, a patient may not have transportation to a food bank or the ability to make or receive calls easily.

Closed-loop referrals alert the social service provider of the patient’s need and confirm that the connection has been made to allow healthcare providers to follow up on patient outcomes.

“This grant will be used to accelerate the development and implementation of GaHIN’s social care integration strategy and roadmap,” said Denise Hines, DHA, PMP, FHIMSS, executive director of GaHIN. “The insights, technology, and best practices developed through this grant and pilot program will lay the foundation for broader expansion across the state of Georgia.”

“GaHIN has been at the forefront of providing data interoperability among healthcare providers, and we are now taking steps to expand that important role by incorporating SDOH factors and supporting closed-loop referrals,” Hines continued. “This is an exciting time, and I believe we are at the inception of a new age in healthcare that will deliver improved outcomes through the integration of medical and social care.”

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