30 State Health Departments Use Software to Collect, Track Data for Pandemic Preparedness

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State health departments across the country are forming health information exchanges (HIEs) to share data to support the nation's public health needs and for early detection and rapid response to potentially catastrophic infectious disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies.

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In this case, Rhapsody will provide the mechanism for the state health departments to collect data from medical laboratories across the state and manage it in a centralized location for processing and analysis.

State health departments across the country are forming health information exchanges (HIEs) to share data to support the nation's public health needs and for early detection and rapid response to potentially catastrophic infectious disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies.

As the CDC and the federal government urge facilities to fortify their emergency preparedness, response and health tracking systems, more than 30 states are turning to off-the-shelf software, Orion Health's Rhapsody™ Integration Engine, to streamline the task of managing hundreds of thousands of pieces of health data from thousands of different patients with a variety of health conditions.

"The effectiveness of public health surveillance in Michigan has been challenged by our lack of ability to consistently move accurate information from clinicians and laboratories to the public health community for timely analysis and intervention," said Corinne Miller, Ph.D., State Epidemiologist, Michigan. "Our ability to integrate Orion Health's Rhapsody software offers us the facility to rapidly and effectively manage data feeds to our surveillance systems and respond with more timely and appropriate public health actions."

As part of their effort to help state organizations to implement electronic reporting systems, the CDC conducted interoperability testing between the Rhapsody Integration Engine and CDC's Public Health Information Network Messaging System (PHINMS). Rhapsody is currently the only solution to have received a statement of operability from the CDC
http://www.cdc.gov/phin/activities/applications-services/phinms/.

"Enabling easy interoperability between disparate legacy systems is always one of our primary development goals for the Rhapsody platform," says Paul de Bazin, Rhapsody general manager, Orion Health. "In this case, Rhapsody will provide the mechanism for the state health departments to collect data from medical laboratories across the state and manage it in a centralized location for processing and analysis."

This type of integration and automated messaging was often not previously possible for states as the cost and effort to port the data into one location was too great. The laboratory information must be transmitted securely, with full protection of privacy, into a specific format -- an HL7 message -- which is typically not the format it is received in. The accuracy of this data could be essential to the detection and rapid response of a bioterrorism attack or pandemic health issue such as avian influenza.

The Rhapsody Integration Engine aggregates health information from various sources and formats the data into an HL7 structure, giving health workers a consistent information base to work from. The software also makes it easy for state workers to automatically feed data into the CDC's nationwide system, to create reports, and provide health officers at the local, regional and national levels with access to information that could be important to emergency response or in trend analysis of health patterns.

By automating the process, state IT workers can achieve a higher volume of quality results in an expeditious and cost-effective manner. Automated reporting further eases the burden on state workers and ensures health workers have access to data for health preparedness.

Rhapsody's ability to integrate data from virtually any legacy data source, to normalize it into a standard HL7 message, and to feed it into a preferred viewing or management system has made it popular with hospitals as well as government organizations.

Rated a "Best in KLAS solution" by independent research organization KLAS Enterprises http://www.healthcomputing.com, Rhapsody has been specifically designed to meet the present and future needs of health integration. The Rhapsody Engine manages and streamlines message exchange between hospital applications, databases and external systems for effortless integration. Rhapsody delivers an integration solution with the lowest cost of ownership and highest return on investment.

For more information about Orion Health's activities at HIMSS, please visit: http://www.orionhealth.com/himss08/.

About Orion Health
Orion Health's easy-to-use applications and tools integrate and enhance existing healthcare information systems and deliver secure, universal access to information. The innovative company delivers an end-to-end information technology (IT) integration platform that brings together clinical content to improve clinician effectiveness and the quality of patient care.

Worldwide, Orion Health is implementing health information communities involving over 35 million patients with tens of thousands of active users. Orion's partners include leading health and IT vendors such as Oracle Corporation, Philips Medical Systems, LogicaCMG, Hewlett Packard, McKesson, and Sierra Systems. Orion also has more than 1,000 clients worldwide including New York State Department of Health, Central Washington Hospital, US Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Vermont State Department of Health and many more. More information can be found at http://www.orionhealth.com.

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TAMARIE JOHNSON
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