Arizona HIE CIO discusses how to get actionable info out of the ‘data dragon’

With 700% growth over the past three years and more than 700 participants representing a broad spectrum of diverse, statewide stakeholders, Health Current – Arizona’s health information exchange since 2007 – faced a significant “data dragon” in the variability in coding terminologies and data content, impeding the flow of more complete patient information.


Support from the state Medicaid program and a broad base of HIE participants contributed to rapid growth but also to a community approach to problem solving. Anticipating rapid and diverse growth, Health Current implemented a strategic plan for 2017-2019 that included a data quality strategy. One of the reasons data quality can be such a difficult “dragon” to tame is the challenge of getting data suppliers and users engaged in a common solution.

Taming the ‘data dragon’

Keith Parker, CIO at Health Current, discussed the approach of the Arizona HIE and what led to his so-called data dragon, along with how he and his team tamed it, in a HIMSS20 Digital session titled “How to Tame Your ‘Data Dragon’: A Statewide Approach.”

The HIE’s vision is, “Make healthcare transformation a reality.” The HIE’s mission is, “We help our partners realize their highest potential to transform care.” The HIE’s purpose is, “Integrate information with the delivery of care to improve individual and community health and wellbeing.” And the HIE’s strategic destination is, “Imagine fully informed health.”

“Today’s environment, with the current COVID-19 pandemic going on, exemplifies the need for clean, quality, usable data in a real-time fashion,” Parker stated.

Health Current started growing rapidly in 2017, which is what led to the dragon. The HIE had 76 participants in 2015; today it has more than 700.

Gaps in data quality, usability

“That rapid growth put significant strains on our system, and also highlighted gaps in our data quality and the usability of our data,” Parker explained. “The other piece of this is from a progress data exchange perspective: The number of users and the amount of data moving increased significantly as well. Data didn’t necessarily correlate one-to-one as we grew with participants and data moving. As our data quality improved, or as that data became more usable, we saw our data usage increase and we saw systems drain increase as well.”

Health Current aligned these issues with a strategic business plan. The HIE tries to do everything in an extremely deliberate way. And it learned this over ten-plus years of being in business.

“The days of ‘Just get her done’ and ‘Let’s get as much data into the system’ are far gone,” Parker said. “It’s the environment of quality data, usable data and inclusion across all of our stakeholders and market segments within healthcare.”

When it comes to integrating health IT, Health Current holds the perspective that the HIE needs a solution that makes data usable across all different data elements.

Healthcare moving toward inclusivity

“What I mean by that is, we’re one of the HIEs nationally where we actually take in 42 CFR Part 2 Protected Data and make that data usable, as well as all the different physical health data from all the different data sources that are coming in,” Parker said. “So we don’t shy away from it. What we heard loud and clear from our market is that the direction healthcare is moving is one of inclusivity, of integrated healthcare. It’s not just looking at healthcare markets as silos but from an integrated perspective. This is a big part in taming that data dragon and choosing applications moving forward as well.”

Parker and HIMSS20 Digital session co-presenter John Damore, chief technology officer and president of Diameter Health, spell out how to tame that dragon in “How to Tame Your ‘Data Dragon’: A Statewide Approach.” To attend the session, click here.

Twitter: @SiwickiHealthIT
Email the writer: [email protected]
Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS Media publication.

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