ONC awards funds to increase data sharing on COVID-19 vaccination efforts

Jan. 20, 2021

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced it will award nearly $20 million to help increase data sharing between health information exchanges (HIEs) and immunization information systems, according to a press release.

The funds were appropriated in the the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

The projects will build on and expand ONC’s Strengthening the Technical Advancement and Readiness of Public Health Agencies via Health Information Exchange (STAR HIE) Program by helping communities improve the sharing of health information related to vaccinations. The goal is to give public health agencies additional help tracking and identifying patients who have yet to receive their second dose of a COVID-19 vaccine and better identify those who may be high-risk who have not yet received a vaccination, according to the release.

It will also help provide a statistically and clinically robust way to measure vaccination outcomes. In collaboration with HIEs, the ability to individually correlate every patient who has received the vaccine with all of their clinical data both pre- and post-vaccination could offer more detailed insight into any adverse events and long-term health outcomes than is currently possible, ONC said.

ONC will also award funds to the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials (ASTHO) and CORHIO, the Colorado Regional Health Information Organization, to support immunization related health information exchange collaborations.

According to HHS, there are currently 63 immunization information systems across the United States. They are funded in part by through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases (NCIRD). Meanwhile, there are approximately 100 health information exchange organizations in the United States, reaching an estimated 92 percent of the U.S. population, according to the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative, the national trade association for HIEs.

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