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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

Georgia Southern Studies LHDs Partners and Challenges in Electronic Exchange of Health Information

Unprecedented amounts of data are produced by the health care and other sectors, presenting opportunities for local health departments (LHDs) to access these data. LHDs will need to participate in health information exchange (HIE) with a number of partners in order to benefit from these data resources. LHDs’ participation in HIEs with specific partners has not been studied.

[Photo: Dr. Gulzar Shah]

The 2015 Informatics capacity and Needs Assessment Survey was conducted by Dr. Gulzar Shah, associate dean for research at the Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health, on behalf of the National Association of County and City Health Officials (NACCHO). This study describes the level of and challenges in LHD participation in HIE with other partners, and variation by LHD population size and governance type.

This research uses data from the 2015 Informatics Capacity and Needs Assessment Survey, with a target population of all LHDs in the United States. A representative sample of 650 LHDs was drawn using a stratified random sampling design. A total of 324 completed responses were received with a 50 percent response rate. Survey data were cleaned, and bivariate comparisons were conducted using χ and Somer’s D.

Substantial variation existed in LHDs’ participation in HIE by type of exchange partner. Although 71 percent participated in HIE with the state departments of health, only 12 percent with jail/correctional health, 14 percent with health or county-based purchasing plans, and 15 percent with home health agencies. Compared with large LHDs (jurisdiction populations of ≥500 000), smaller LHDs were more likely to participate in HIE with state departments of health, but less likely with other exchange partners. The challenges to HIE participation were technological, and organizational/interorganizational in nature and variation existed by LHDs’ population size and governance structure with respect to state authority.

In conclusion, Local public health agencies more commonly participate in HIE with some partners, but may need to improve HIE with many others. National strategies targeting an increase in HIE of LHDs may use our findings to focus those initiatives.

The study titled “Local Health Departments’ Partners and Challenges in Electronic Exchange of Health Information,” was published in the Journal of Public Health Management and Practice.

Dr. Gulzar Shah, associate dean for research at Jiann-Ping Hsu College of Public Health at Georgia Southern University was the lead author.