On November 9, the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Philadelphia hosted a virtual event entitled, “Leveraging Patient Data During the Pandemic: Making Our Region Resilient in the Face of Crisis.” The event brought together healthcare leaders in the region to share their insights into how connected health technology and data supported the region’s coronavirus pandemic response and benefitted patients. The discussion featured speakers from HealthShare Exchange (HSX) and panelists from Einstein Health Network and Slalom Consulting. It was supported by and connected to the work of the Health Care and Life Sciences Action Team, a group of Chamber members working to forge connections, improve the community’s economic competitiveness, and promote the region as a center of healthcare innovation.

During the conversation, speakers discussed how Greater Philadelphia’s healthcare community came together during the pandemic and formed partnerships to improve health outcomes. They described how the region’s healthcare technology infrastructure supported those efforts and illustrated how leaders leveraged data in healthcare systems and other industries to respond. The speakers also discussed what was learned and could be taken forward to foster resilience in the face of future challenges.

Richard Snyder, Executive Vice President and Chief Medical Officer of Independence Health Group, spoke on behalf of his company, the event’s title sponsor. Dr. Snyder is also a co-founder and chairman of the board of HSX. He leads Independence’s efforts to improve the quality of patient care by transitioning all primary care delivery to the patient-centered medical home model, which focuses on a team approach to well-coordinated medical care. In describing HSX, Dr. Snyder said, “The focus from the start was collaboration between payers and providers recognizing the importance of having all the information when you treat patients.”

Featured speaker Martin Lupinetti, President and CEO, HSX, shared the story of HealthShare Exchange. Started nearly a decade ago, HSX is a nonprofit community-directed organization that gathers and makes electronic patient health information available securely at the point of care throughout Greater Philadelphia’s healthcare ecosystem. The patient is the focal point as HSX works to ensure health data gets to where it’s needed most.

William Marella, Director, Data Analytics and Quality, HSX, detailed how HSX’s service supported patients during the pandemic. Real-time alerts were shared with providers and care teams when a patient was diagnosed with COVID-19 so they could be monitored. The technology also enabled HSX to share data with public health agencies, assist with contact tracing and immunization tracking, and create a data repository to allow the information to be used for research and population health purposes.

Among the activities that worked well, Marella said, “we’re quickly incorporating new codes to identify COVID-19 cases and enable real-time notification; and helping with vaccination rollout by applying a COVID Risk Index to patients, prioritizing them for vaccine rollout.”

Following HSX’s presentation, Michele L. Buenafe, Partner at Morgan, Lewis & Bockius LLP, moderated a panel discussion with Rohit Gulati, MD, MBA, Executive Vice President & Chief Medical Officer, Urban Core for Einstein Health Network, and Laura Kepler, Senior Principal, Slalom Consulting, as well as HSX’s Lupinetti and Marella.

Dr. Gulati said, “From the earliest days of the pandemic, data and analytics have played a very crucial part, and the data and analytics evolved very rapidly for us, allowing governments, payers, healthcare organizations to guide efforts in the fight against COVID.” He described how data early on in the pandemic focused on infection transmission rates, which quickly shifted to focus on admissions, hospitalizations, and resource utilization metrics. It further evolved, he said, to predictive analytics as to who would require an ICU bed. In the vaccination stage, data helped providers find people at the highest risk and steer vaccination resources to zip codes with low vaccination uptake.

Kepler, who leads Slalom’s data strategy practice, discussed what she saw during the pandemic. “Many of our clients realize that they needed insights immediately, and what that did is really put a highlight on where there are data gaps – in accessibility, in data transparency, in data latency – and things that we’ve known have existed in healthcare data for a long time, but were really exemplified during the pandemic.” Clients also needed to take quick action on the information and to be able to trust in the data. They also are seeing that people are engaging in healthcare differently, consuming telemedicine at higher rates, for example.

Among the topics the leaders addressed during the moderated panel were issues they faced regarding patient data and security; how shared data was used to treat and serve patients; and the significance of all players – from the tech community, providers, insurers — coming together to share patient data during the pandemic.

If you are interested in listening to the recording of the program, contact Brynn Primavera at [email protected]. The event was sponsored by Independence Blue Cross, Morgan Lewis, My Benefit Advisor, Slalom, and Baker Tilly.