In the 18 months between March 2020 and September 2021, the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the critical importance of health data as well as widespread community outreach efforts.

As the data-exchange network serving Colorado, Contexture joined forces with healthcare professionals, hospitals, government and public health agencies and organizations across the state to ensure that stakeholders are connected to the data they need to inform life-and-death decisions.

As the coronavirus spread in spring 2020, HIEs hit the ground running to aggregate the surge of COVID-19 test results – giving hospitals and government agencies the ability to track the geography and demographics of the pandemic in real time. These efforts allowed healthcare observers to make sense of how interventions around the pandemic are working.

Here are some of the ways Contexture and our partners worked together to attenuate COVID-19 during the peak of the pandemic with health data and collaboration:

Adapting early to the pandemic.

Contexture began gathering COVID-19 data analytics in March 2020.By May of that year, our COVID-19 dashboards were live and made available to first responders and other groups. Our organization provided both patient-level information for healthcare professionals and a population health dashboard to provide a broad overview for policymakers who set public health guidelines to manage the outbreak, such as occupancy restrictions at restaurants and retail businesses.

Utilizing existing infrastructure.

Coordinated efforts in Colorado didn’t require investments in new technology because Contexture was already using software for data visualization, authentication support and identity management. Participants could readily view real-time lab results and other health information through the provider portal, PatientCare 360. In many respects, Contexture was ready for the pandemic because we had established digital pipelines to allow the data to flow where it was needed. Our work focused on sorting and filtering the components of COVID-19 testing so that users could sort it in ways that were meaningful to them.

Real-time notifications of COVID-19 results to the front lines.

Early in the first wave of the pandemic, Contexture began disseminating COVID-19 notifications to ensure that our participants received up-to-date testing results from state hospitals, major labs and the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment (CDPHE).

No-cost lab notifications.

Contexture waived implementation fees and monthly fees for three months so that participants could receive daily batch files with relevant demographics and member-based test results in real time. There are many stories of how this service helped our community. The notifications  helped a community health worker reach out to patients about their test results. A hospital liaison was able to keep better tabs on the health status of her patients. And medical professionals at a local Colorado jail used the test results to make decisions about inmate placement.

Moving forward in the fight against COVID-19, HIE platforms will be useful for public health officials tracking vaccination status – an important function as distribution efforts to vaccinate more Americans and potentially mitigate the frustrating breaks in the manufacturer-to-patient supply chain that are preventing many people from receiving available vaccines.

Though there’s still work to be done in the fight against COVID-19, these collaborative efforts with hospitals, healthcare professionals and public health agencies will be instrumental in ending the pandemic. Data and collaboration will continue to be key factors in patient and community health in the near and distant future.

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