Stronger Together: The Road to Health Data Utility

Date: February 19th, 2021Category: CORHIO e-NewsletterTopics: CORHIO Network, Health Current, merger

CORHIO, Health Current CEOs discuss how upcoming merger means better care for 20 million in Colorado and Arizona

Attendees of the opening session of CORHIO’s virtual 10th anniversary celebration event on Feb. 11 got a preview of how the upcoming merger between CORHIO and Health Current will further improve care coordination and clinical outcomes for their communities, all while supporting their respective state’s HIE and health information technology initiatives.

Morgan Honea, CEO of CORHIO, said he and Melissa Kotrys, CEO of Health Current, initially began comparing similarities between their two organizations in 2019.  Their wheels began turning when Kotrys invited Honea to speak at Health Current’s annual summit.

“Melissa was on the stage giving the state of the union for Health and I texted her and said, ‘We’re literally running the same company. Shouldn’t we be talking about how we could do this better by working together?’” Honea recalled.

Forming a new regional organization

Approximately 1,320 healthcare organizations in Colorado and Arizona trust CORHIO and Health Current to provide HIE services and data stewardship. The formation of the new regional organization is expected to be finalized around June 2020, with the potential to create the largest health data utility in the West. 

“[Since the announcement] we’ve been working hard with a number of our stakeholders, board representatives, and state representatives to develop our organizational and governance model that ensures our commitment to our Colorado communities and Arizona communities can be met in a way that builds on the efficiencies of our joint organizations but also leverages the unique capabilities of the two,” Honea told the audience.

Kotrys then shared a brief history of Health Current, which grew out of a 2007 gubernatorial executive order and subsequent collaborative community effort to develop a statewide health IT strategy. The organization later operated as a Regional Extension Center assisting Arizona providers to adopt and use their HIE, before launching a new technology platform for providers. They have grown from 75 organizations participating in their HIE in 2015 to more than 850 to date, she said.

Building on each organization’s strengths

When the merger is complete this summer, CORHIO and Health Connect will have data from 20 million individuals between both states, Kotrys noted. She said despite their similarities, it’s the differences and unique programs within each organization that will offer the greatest strengths when they come together.

“Of the things that we do differently, there are also complementary services that CORHIO provides that we don’t do today – services and support that our stakeholders here in Arizona would be interested in and vice-versa,” Kotrys added.

Some of the unique programs Health Current offers its participants in Arizona include:

  • Supporting the state’s public health COVID-19 response efforts with the Arizona Surge Line to triage and manage patient flow. It represents 98 percent of the statewide hospital discharges and powers real-time bed capacity for the state’s Department of Health.
  • Supporting hospitals and healthcare providers with sending electronic COVID-19 case reporting and other data to the public health agency.  These efforts help public health agencies fill information gaps like race and ethnicity, comorbidities, and chronic conditions for the pandemic recovery phase.
  • Building a statewide social determinants of health closed-loop referral system in collaboration with their state’s Medicaid agency. The robust platform will help providers and community organizations connect individuals to needed services.
  • Working with multiple stakeholders to launch a statewide electronic healthcare directives registry, which will be available to providers and consumers. This is Health Current’s first service providing direct consumer access.  
  • Offering behavioral health information exchange services. Health Current is recognized as a national leader in this work.

Looking to the future state of HIEs
“I’m excited about all the work we have ahead,” Kotrys said of the upcoming merger. “There's unlimited opportunities as we look to the future and what we can do beyond the traditional HIE model to really benefit our communities, to support better care coordination, and to improve the health and wellness of our communities.”

CORHIO has identified leveraging Health Current’s work in behavioral health information exchange to bring the services to Colorado as a top priority. Honea noted he plans to kick off a collaboration with state partners and the behavioral health community in the next few months as part of that effort.

“That’s absolutely one area where are differences are complementary,” he added.

To learn more about the merger, visit our FAQ page.