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STAR HIE Program Supports Public Health Agencies Throughout COVID-19

The STAR HIE program funded advancements that have driven interoperability, enhanced public health data capabilities, increased vaccination data sharing, and reduced reporting burden.

The Strengthening the Technical Advancement & Readiness of Public Health via Health Information Exchange Program (The STAR HIE Program) has made considerable improvements in its effort to support public health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The initial ONC STAR HIE Program was funded through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) in 2020 to reinforce state and local HIE infrastructure to give public health agencies increased access to extensive use of interoperable patient data.

In 2021, ONC expanded the program with the goal of enhancing vaccination data sharing between jurisdictional Immunization Information Systems (IIS) and HIEs. 

Recipients of the STAR HIE Program explored innovative HIE services to support public health agencies and communities severely impacted by the pandemic.

Improving the availability of COVID-19 testing and vaccination information was one of the many accomplishments achieved through the investments funded by ONC’s STAR HIE program.

Nine of the awardees used the funding to advance vaccine uptake by providing organizations with bulk reports. These reports helped providers and public health agencies track vaccination progress and identify patients who hadn’t received their COVID-19 vaccination.

In addition, COVID-19 notification solutions were deployed to deliver COVID-19 test result notifications and reports to providers, hospitals, and public health agencies.

Awardees also enhanced public health immunization interoperability. Fourteen recipients improved signed contracts with public health agencies facilitating COVID-19 use cases, enhancing access to lab data. Fifteen awardees improved vaccination data sharing capabilities by connecting HIEs to IIS.

The Texas Health Services Authority (THSA) was one of the awardees to receive funding under the STAR HIE Program to improve patient data exchange between IIS and HIEs.

“We are grateful to have received the supplemental award from the ONC STAR HIE Program, and it's a testament to the ability of THSA, HASA, and Audacious Inquiry to solve a critical data-sharing problem in our state and country through the SANER Project," said George Gooch, chief executive officer of THSA.

"With access to additional information on vaccine rates in the capacity tracking platform, Texas will be able to prioritize the highest risk communities and populations and see the full picture of where the most need exists."

In addition, the program aided in reducing reporting burden for public health agencies and providers.

By establishing new connections between HIEs and both hospitals and correctional facilities, awardees were able to expand COVID-19 data sharing. This allowed providers and patients to gain real-time access to COVID-19 immunization data in their medical records.

Receipts also leveraged the Situational Awareness for Novel Epidemic Response Implementation Guide (IG), a standards-based approach for real-time reporting of hospital capacity data.

“This IG enables transmission of high-level situational awareness information from inpatient facilities to centralized data repositories to support the treatment of novel influenza-like illness,” ONC officials Larry Jessup, Laverne Perlie, Daisy Moossa, and Terah Tessier wrote in the blog post. “The STAR HIE project served as an important pilot to test a model that is expected to reduce burden for hospital facilities and improve public health readiness.”

STAR HIE recipients also created new reporting tools that allowed providers to electronically report vaccination and COVID-19 lab results to their public health agency, improving data quality.

“Recipients continue their work in 2022 to build on these achievements, and although each is different, they are all focused on sustainability to ensure this valuable work continues in the communities they serve. We look forward to sharing more success stories from the STAR HIE Program throughout the year,” Jessup, Moossa, and Tessier wrote.

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