– Orange County Partners in Health (OCPH) Health Information Exchange (HIE) has earned California Trusted Exchange Network (CTEN) certification, the organization announced.
Working with both the Coalition of Orange County Community Health Centers (The Coalition) and Safety Net Connect, OCPH HIE was able to enhance its health IT infrastructure and interoperability to connect to low-income individuals in Orange County. These two partnerships led to CTEN certification.
“Many of the patients we serve already experience disparities in health care; matters that are being exacerbated by the nationwide COVID-19 pandemic,” Isabel Becerra, CEO of the Coalition, said in a statement. “This effort will transform how we share health care information in Orange County and enable us to make a meaningful improvement in health outcomes for our communities.”
Since achieving Health Center Controlled Network (HCCN) grant requirements in 2018, OCPH and its 12-member coalition developed an HIE program to allow its health organization members to exchange patient data.
CTEN certification requires a high level of technical standards for patient data exchange, OCPH said, which is why it’s vital for OCPH HIE to drive interoperability and Carequality network access for its members.
“Community health centers provide vital medical and behavioral health services within Orange County,” Mike Matull, HCCN Project Director at The Coalition, said in a statement. “We are excited to be able to further support their important work by building a sustainable HIE that serves organizations small and large across our region. Safety Net Connect has played an invaluable role in making that happen.”
Thus far, regional HIEs in California have not been able to effectively serve Orange County’s large group of localized health centers that care for the underserved and uninsured individuals. According to OCPH HIE, the organization aims to expand access and membership to those individuals in Orange County.
To increase care coordination, reduce redundant services, and promote patient care, health organizations need to exchange patient data for individuals in the community who are underserved.
Recently, the state of California and its HIEs worked to help those who are uninsured or depend on Med-Cali, the state’s Medicaid program.
In March, five federally qualified health centers (FQHCs) in Southern California joined the Los Angeles Network for Enhanced Services (LANES) nonprofit HIE to access its health data exchange platform and enhance care coordination.
South Central Family Health Center, Via Care Community Health Center, South Bay Family Health Care, San Fernando Community Health Center, and Universal Community Health Center all signed contracts with LANES to improve primary care and gain more information access.
This was a key step considering the fragmented nature of FQHC and specialist care.
“These patients tend to receive primary care services at a community clinic. From there, they are routinely referred to specialists like cardiology or oncology at a local public or private hospital,” Anish P. Mahajan, chief medical officer at Harbor-UCLA Medical Center and LANES chairman of the board, said at the time. “But what often happens is that their PCP experiences delays in obtaining their latest medical records from either the specialist or a local hospital ER.”
“By accessing LANES, every LA County hospital and community clinic can work together in collaboration off the same health record data in real time to eliminate the fragmentation, effectively closing the loop in care for every underserved patient,” Mahajan continued.
The number of California FQHCs and the number of patients that visited them increased by 37 percent between 2013 and 2017, according to the 2019 California Healthcare Safety Net.