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AZ Health Information Exchange to Integrate SDOH Data Tool

Implementing an SDOH tool into Arizona’s statewide health information exchange will provide increased information about this data for its participants and boost interoperability.

Health Current, Arizona’s statewide health information exchange, announced it is implementing a closed loop referral platform for its users to gain a greater understanding of social determinants of health (SDOH) and enhance data exchange.

This integration aims to connect healthcare and community service providers on one platform to streamline the SDOH screening and referral process, increase access to social services, and confirm delivery of social services.

“We are thrilled to work with NowPow on this critically important service that promises to better connect healthcare providers and community-based organizations in Arizona,” Melissa Kotrys, CEO of Health Current, said in a statement. “The robust capabilities of their technology solution, combined with their proven track record of success in other states, made NowPow an ideal collaborator for this initiative,” she added.

SDOH, or the social factors that influence one’s ability to obtain health and wellness, impact roughly 80 percent of an individual’s health.

The state’s Medicaid agency, Arizona Health Care Cost Containment System (AHCCCS), recently launched its Whole Person Care Initiative (WPCI). This initiative puts its focus on SDOH, such as housing, employment, criminal justice, transportation, and home and community-based services interventions.

AHCCCS partnered with the Arizona statewide HIE to integrate an SDOH platform to support providers, health plans, community-based organizations, and community stakeholders to boost SDOH in Arizona.

Health Current partnered with AHCCCS and 2-1-1 Arizona, which is operated by Crisis Response Network (CRN), to find a vendor that could meet the HIE’s software needs, such as streamlining social risk factor screenings, referring individuals to compatible community resources, and serving a closed loop referral program.

“The SDOH closed loop referral system is foundational to our Whole Person Care Initiative,” said Jami Snyder, director of AHCCCS.

“As Arizona’s trusted HIE, Health Current is the ideal community organization to implement this necessary technology. And by Health Current and 2-1-1 Arizona joining forces, we see this as a real opportunity to link current community resources with individuals’ social needs, ultimately resulting in improved member health and wellness,” Snyder continued.

SDOH data is critical to analyze and report on outcomes for both the healthcare system and the community.

Research shows that identifying and implementing a patient’s SDOH into the EHR is crucial to finding answers to a state’s most significant issues. Relevant SDOH data can include tobacco and alcohol use, exercise, access to nutritional food, stable housing, reliability of transportation, and many more.

“We take pride in being a vital connection point between individuals and the services they need,” said Justin Chase, president and CEO of CRN. “CRN is honored to be involved in this valuable new initiative.  In fact, we view it as a natural extension of why we exist – simply delivered in a new, robust technology soon to be available at the fingertips of healthcare providers and CBOs across the state.”

Health Current and the vendor plan to implement the platform in spring 2021.

Although integrating SDOH into an HIE is challenging, a growing number of statewide HIEs are realizing the benefits and are accepting this challenge.

In June 2020, Nebraska Health Information Initiative (NEHII), Nebraska’s statewide HIE, implemented behavioral health data, such as SDOH, into the HIE.

The Nebraska HIE partnered with a vendor network of social services organizations to create Unite Nebraska, which aimed to connect health and social care providers to enhance care coordination and delivery across the state.

With this partnership, Nebraskans can access nutrition services, employment and benefits, and housing through community-based organizations. The two groups intend to break down existing barriers between clinical and social care providers, enabling them to provide care with trackable outcomes data.

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