Health data’s role in helping healthcare stakeholders track the geography and demographics of COVID-19 at the height of the pandemic has been well-documented. Along with giving healthcare and public health professionals the clinical information they need, health data has allowed state agencies to leverage funding from federal agencies to provide healthcare to underserved populations.
In Colorado, Contexture helped state agencies identify gaps in Medicaid eligibility, human service programs and vaccinations by working on various projects to ensure that Coloradans get services and resources to maintain and improve their health.
Effort Predates COVID-19
Though the pandemic has exacerbated the need for healthcare coverage and services among underserved populations, Colorado was committed to bridging the gaps in health equity years before the public health crisis emerged in early 2020.
Released by the Office of eHealth Innovation (OeHI) in late 2019, Colorado’s Health IT Roadmap highlighted several priorities, including promoting and advancing data shared by reducing or removing barriers to effective information sharing; supporting health innovation and transformation by enhancing Colorado’s health information infrastructure; and improving health in Colorado by promoting operability of health IT.
Contexture worked with the state to support improvement of identity management services using a software solution from Verato. Verato’s Universal Master Person Index was designed to enhance and identify duplicate records in the state’s Medicaid roster.
COVID-Related Case Histories
Earlier in the pandemic, Contexture was tasked to help the state gather data and glean an understanding of who was being impacted by COVID-19.
When COVID-19 arose, there was a general recognition that we needed to identify the challenges of the communities if we were going to understand the impacts through the lens of health equity and inclusion.
Using the Verato software, Contexture also was able to identify the age and ethnicity of those in Colorado’s Medicaid system who were being vaccinated.
One of the things we recognized early on in the pandemic was that demographics data that was coming into the immunization information system was often missing important elements such as race and ethnicity.
In short, OeHI found that members of Health First Colorado (Colorado’s Medicaid program) lagged behind the state’s general population in terms of getting full vaccinations by July 2021. The numbers also showed stark disparities in ethnic and racial lines, with vaccine rates of 70% of Asian American Coloradans compared to just 35% of African American Coloradans. Roughly 40% of white and Hispanic Medicaid members were receiving the vaccine — revealing a glaring challenge in terms of ensuring that vaccine opportunities were being equally distributed.
The data allowed the state to dramatically improve its analytics by identifying trends in its communities, directly addressing health inequities, sharing information about assistance programs to the right groups, increasing education and improving outcomes in the short and long run.
Other Uses of Identity Software
In addition to the aforementioned work, Contexture used the Verato software and its expertise to help OeHI detect errors and duplication in individual health records across multiple databases by harnessing the availability of existing data. Through this work, we found over 19,000 instances across five state applications where the same state ID number had been assigned to two or more people. This work will help ensure that patients’ clinical histories are available to healthcare professionals who need them.
Contexture is collaborating with Verato and the state of Colorado to enrich data on social determinants of health such as education, location and poverty status to inform the state on other ways it could help improve outcomes in its communities.
This work will help the state Medicaid program understand types of inequity and exclusion that might be impacting membership and other issues. The information will be a great benefit to state agencies and healthcare providers throughout Colorado and beyond.