THA Launches Data Sharing Initiative for TennCare Patients
By MELANIE KILGORE-HILL
ConnecTN Looks to Improve Communication, Outcomes
Data sharing is an ongoing struggle for healthcare providers, but the Tennessee Hospital Association has launched an initiative that seeks to improve outcomes for providers and patients, alike.
Through their partnership with Audacious Inquiry, the THA has developed a way to share real-time hospital data with TennCare and Tennessee hospitals to enhance the management of care provided to enrollees and patients. THA's new service, called ConnecTN®, allows THA and its members to support statewide care coordination and quality improvement programs.
"Part of what the TennCare Bureau really wanted to know is what's happening with its patients," said THA President Craig Becker. "It was quite an undertaking to put this together."
The program has been fully implemented by more than 40 Tennessee hospitals and health systems, with plans to add remaining organizations by the end of 2017. Through ConnecTN, an enrollee's primary care physician would immediately know about the TennCare patient's interaction with a hospital, including visits to hospital emergency rooms.
Actionable, real time data means immediate plans can be made for post-discharge care, whether that includes home health, nursing home care or follow-up for a chronic or emergent condition. The Care Coordination Tool allows the primary care provider to immediately communicate with his patient, regardless of which Tennessee ED is visited, to address the reason for the visit. They can then work together to establish a plan for better managing the patient's health and avoid future ED visits.
"We find that payers all want a certain amount of information about patients so we're trying to create a single source so it's not such a burden to hospitals," said Becker, noting that much of that pressure for data collection comes from managed care organizations. "We look at this as a first step so we're making sure we're doing it right. If we can make it work, a whole lot of other things can be done using this data to avoid duplicate data collection."
Becker said hospital response has been overall positive, although many administrators were initially concerned about the security of any data sharing system.
"We want to make sure what we're doing is extremely secure," said Becker. "The data storage and transmission platform has been utilized in several other states and is considered to be extremely secure. We're just being very cautious, but now that most of our big systems are signed up, it's just a process of getting everyone else online."
To date, Audacious Inquiry's Encounter Notification System has delivered almost 42 million notifications and benefitted more than 24 million subscribed patients nationwide. "The whole idea is that this will grow and become even more standardized and efficient than we are right now," Becker said. "We're still in the adolescent phase of electronic health records, and there's a lot of room for progress."