Blog Using Existing Infrastructure to Advance Health Equity: Use Cases from Civitas 2022

Using Existing Infrastructure to Advance Health Equity: Use Cases from Civitas 2022

Using Existing Infrastructure to Advance Health Equity: Use Cases from Civitas 2022

Group of doctors walking in corridor on medical conference.

Dear Diary,

I was so excited to attend the Civitas Networks for Health 2022 Annual Conference, a Collaboration with the DirectTrust™ Summit! Upon arriving in San Antonio, I was fully prepared for discussions about how the nation is expanding the usage of Direct Secure Messaging, and how DataMotion fits into that expansion. As the leader in secure exchange for over 20 years, DataMotion has served as a HISP for more than 10 of those years, enabling frictionless, secure, and compliant communications between disparate endpoints across the healthcare ecosystem. Our team is highly interested in how we can continuously innovate; as a strategic partner to healthcare organizations, our customers share how they are using existing technology, what they are seeking to do next, and how we can help them achieve those goals. I was looking forward to a tech-heavy conversation overall, with a focus on features and functions that would be helpful to organizations’ healthcare IT solutions.

“We’re all in the Health Equity Business”

I quickly realized that the overall discussion was going to be quite different from what I had envisioned. Conversations went beyond features and functionality, instead focusing on how the elements of clinical data, interoperability, and community are essential to attaining health equity, as stated by Scott Stuewe, President and CEO of DirectTrust. This theme of health equity, which is defined by the CDC as “when every person has the opportunity to ‘attain his or her full health potential’ and no one is ‘disadvantaged from achieving this potential because of social position or other socially determined circumstances,’” was the driver of many of our conversations as well as the topic of many of the sessions.

Mr. Stuewe went on to say, “We’re all in the health equity business…we are infrastructure. It’s time to build.” I was deeply impressed with some of the improvements that are being made to the DirectTrust Directory, and excited to think about DataMotion’s role, and how we can help.

Rishi Manchanda, CEO of HealthBegins, followed up with Mr. Stuewe’s comments by stating that failure to integrate social care and reduce inequities makes it harder to achieve health equity. “Regional health improvement collaboratives and health information exchanges can help build the nation’s infrastructure for health equity.” While it’s hard to fundamentally change how we envision healthcare today, it’s something for which we have already built the groundwork.

Leveraging Direct to Advance Health Equity

The tone of the conference was deeper and more meaningful than what I had expected. I enjoyed that. It is truly rewarding to hear how something that your company provides (in DataMotion’s case, Direct Secure Messaging) is positively impacting patient care. For example, I attended a session titled “Improving Information Sharing in Arkansas for Children in Foster Care.” Justin Villines, HIT Policy Director at SHARE HIE, and Anne Santifer, Director at SHARE HIE, spoke about leveraging their existing Direct infrastructure to share daily custody reports. The automated process goes something like this:

  • Upon entering the foster care system or a new home, a child’s data is entered into a database. When the child moves homes or exits the system, their information is updated.
  • From initial foster system entry and when transferring homes, a custody report is sent to an HIE, which is then sent to the child’s assigned primary care provider. This report includes demographic and case worker information.
  • The provider then communicates this information with the child’s case worker, updating who is (or is not) authorized to access the child’s medical records and make decisions.

This process is fast, smooth, and of course secure and within compliance. By closing the loop and eliminating barriers, the child’s most recent custody records are quickly sent to their primary care physician, and caseworkers can update information just as quickly, ensuring expedient care for the child when they need it. This example was just one of many shared at the conference that demonstrated how we are already utilizing existing technologies to connect disparate systems and bring us one step closer to achieving health equity.

The Domino Effect

I was fortunate to join the NinePatch Wine Reception on day two. It was great to meet the team at NinePatch and learn how they help care systems connect and work together across behavioral, social, and medical services. When I was speaking with Leigh Sterling, President and CEO of NinePatch, she discussed how the industry as a whole is redefining what is considered healthcare.

Ms. Sterling gave a great example of how something as simple as a flat tire could have a domino effect on mental illness. Let’s say a person’s flat tire causes them to miss work, which causes them to lose their job. This job provided mental stability, and the loss of employment causes them to spiral. This loss of employment (and potentially, the ensuing episode) could have been avoided if a payor/provider was able to provide the appropriate resources for this person to get to their job – a taxi, Uber/Lyft, etc.

Does that mean we should consider something like a rideshare app to be a part of healthcare? If so, how do we communicate someone’s needs from an EHR/EMR to non-traditional healthcare partners (such as a ridesharing app) in a way that is clear and transmitted securely and compliantly? These are all interesting things to think about, especially as we seek to remove barriers to receiving care and to better provide services for everyone, including mental health services.

In Closing

Overall, the conference was a huge success and highly informative. I learned so much, not only about DirectTrust and the importance of being a HISP, but how healthcare is evolving to meet today’s needs. I enjoyed learning about how the industry is leveraging existing infrastructure that we, including DataMotion, have put in place so we can achieve health equity. I’m always thankful for being able to learn, grow, and meet new people with interesting ideas at these events.

Until next year!


P.S. This year’s event is over, but the conversation continues and is becoming increasingly important. I welcome the opportunity to speak with you about how DataMotion can help your healthcare organization as we work toward better interoperability. Please feel free to set up an introductory chat via my calendar link.