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The Sequoia Project has launched a new Emergency Preparedness Information Workgroup, designed to learn from some of the specific interoperability challenges since the start of the COVID-19 crisis – and point the way toward more robust data exchange capabilities during future public health emergencies.

The workgroup, convened as part of the Sequoia”s Interoperability Matters Cooperative, will assess an array of technology and information exchange challenges for states – policy and regulatory hurdles, privacy challenges, side effects of long-term prednisone use in cats funding and resources – that might hamstring information availability for emergency preparedness.

Participants will include representatives from California EMSA, California Health Information Exchange, Common Spirit, Florida HIE, Florida Public Health, Georgia HIE, North Carolina Department of Health, Texas eHealth Alliance, and Texas Health Services Authority. There are also participants from several key federal partners.

In monthly meetings beginning in January, the group will focus on:

  • IT and interoperability lessons learned from response to the COVID-19 pandemic 
  • Opportunities to address issues that impede public health access to information for disaster response efforts
  • Community of practice where public health, Medicaid and other state entities and federal partners can discuss innovations and blockers to those innovations.

Progress and findings will be published on the Sequoia Project’s website.

Recent Sequoia Project initiatives have focused on some promising patient matching possibilities and another workgroup focused on data usability across different clinical use cases.

This most recent group will seek answers to some specific challenges that have been highlighted by the pandemic, which has shone a harsh light on some of the gaps and limitations of the nationwide data sharing infrastructure.

As former U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra told us this past June, too many providers and public health agencies were still limited to “phoned in and faxed in results, with maybe an electronic feed on lab results, but with basic demographics in some cases, often without age or race, or any other variable.”

Sequoia Project initiatives such as its PULSE disaster response platform can help with information exchange and nationwide care coordination during emergencies.

“States and local agencies, such as public health agencies, have had to rapidly adapt to unforeseen circumstances caused by the current pandemic. They’re often challenged to readily access the information they need for response efforts,” said Debbie Condrey, chief information officer of The Sequoia Project, and facilitator of the workgroup, in a statement.

“With this new workgroup, we’re aiming to apply the lessons learned to improve timely access to information to support emergency preparedness for the future. We look forward to working together to find solutions to the interoperability challenges facing states during these unprecedented times.”

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
Email the writer: [email protected]

Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.

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