Three Takeaways from the 2022 State HIT CONNECT Summit
By Adam Hayden
Briljent’s Health Information Technology (HIT) team presented at State HIT CONNECT and shares three key insights from the conference.
Last month, ten professionals from our State Medicaid Enterprise Systems (MES) and Health Information Technology teams traveled to Baltimore to attend the 2022 State Health IT CONNECT Summit. Let’s catch up on a few trends we identified after conversations with colleagues and attending the many available workshop tracks.
Public Health Emergency Unwinding: “Hope is Not a Strategy”
It’s no surprise that one of the most pressing topics was the PHE (Public Health Emergency) Unwinding. According to Ed Dolly, CMS Director of State Systems, the workforce will be the number one challenge for states during the PHE unwinding. Staffing thousands of new eligibility case workers quickly and getting ready for redeterminations will be an effort unlike any before.
The PHE Unwinding presents a significant task list for states, with both near- and longer-term requirements. States need to complete policy and system assessments to avoid bottlenecks for redetermination and start supporting contact centers and training. System and program staff will need to work together to walk through the process, identify bottlenecks, and loosen edits requiring manual intervention where possible.
What we heard was to start now. Map all processes from end to end, including communication, stakeholder outreach, media buys, mailings, systems activities, call center support, and training staff. Know your current state from headcount to systems mapping to process documentation.
A material inventory is another immediate priority. The supply chain shortage continues to create significant delays in mailings, so be sure you have the paper and envelopes you need. However, the PHE has intensified housing instability, further contributing to the contact woes for an already transient audience. In addition to traditional mailings, consider a plan for visual media, digital, and text communications. MCOs (managed care organizations) can also assist with communicating with members. HIEs (health information exchanges) may be sharing contact information from clinical settings with MCOs. Aim to increase your no-touch renewals!
Behavioral Health and Substance Use Disorder: Getting Your Data to Move, to Move to Better Outcomes
Interoperable data holds promise to improve behavioral health (BH) outcomes and combat substance use disorder (SUD). Moving data between systems offers insights for policymakers and can aid prescribers in clinical settings. Both State Medicaid Agencies (SMAs) and HIEs must continue building relationships to achieve these goals. Data governance, structured stakeholder meetings, and training facilitates better care coordination and equips Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems with better clinical decision support tools.
Tom Novak from ONC served on the panel for Shaun Wilhelm’s, HIT Senior Consultant, roundtable about the possibility of using medical claims data to combat SUD. Tom said straightforwardly, “If you want your data to move, it should move,” and this is where facilitating SMA-HIE stakeholder meetings and alignment efforts is critical. We see pivoting from a particular focus on SUD initiatives toward a broad BH focus as essential to the future of health IT with respect to promoting population health.
Overall, Shaun put this theme of the summit in plain terms: “Biggest takeaway? Health IT needs to support BH outcomes.”
TEFCA is Real
Values-Based Care is growing, and states must take clinical data seriously and use it in risk adjustment and interventions on cost/quality. This also offers an opportunity for HIEs to focus on payers to provide value and increase revenue. We sensed some hesitance among states and HIEs that TEFCA will achieve its promise to establish a “floor” for interoperability. The Trusted Exchange Framework and Common Agreement, also known as TEFCA, outlines a common set of principles, terms, and conditions to enable nationwide exchange of electronic health information. Susan, reporting from her role embedded within a state agency, tells us, “TEFCA is becoming real, and states and HIEs need to be prepared to participate with a QHIN [Qualified Health Information Network].”
When it comes to standards for information exchange, Susan Clark, HIT Consultant, shared this following the summit, “Everyone wants to work on SDOH (Social Determinants of Health) and Health Equity, but the work is not far along, and the scope is not clearly defined. There is a need help to facilitate standards, collaboration, and governance.”
Modularity on the Move
We heard several great stories and case studies describing how SMAs and healthcare organizations are transitioning to a modular Medicaid Enterprise. Large, legacy Medicaid Management Information Systems, or MMIS, are to be replaced with smaller, more agile systems, or “modules,” that reduce the risk of large-scale systems outages, expensive system implementations, and burdensome updating, while increasing flexibility, interoperability, and standardization. Stay tuned for the next chapter of this blog post where we take a deeper dive into the experience of the Virginia Department of Medical Assistance Services (DMAS) and their innovative MES implementation that went live in April 2022.
Briljent serves state agencies and healthcare organizations throughout the entire lifecycle of funding, planning, and implementing health IT initiatives. Over three years, Briljent helped clients gain approval for over $1 billion in federal funding support. We have worked with every State Medicaid office in the U.S. and 6 U.S. territories. We are currently partnering with states to support PHE Unwinding activities, and we serve as a training integrator for states implementing modular Medicaid Enterprise Systems with multiple system vendors. In a recent state implementation, Briljent’s integrated training on the new MES reached 3,000 people.
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