Interoperability for HIE

AWARDS is interoperable with any Health Information Exchange (HIE).

If your organization is using AWARDS to manage the data related to the services you provide, you have the tools to participate in any Health Information Exchange without duplicate data entry. AWARDS will serve as a single portal to send data in any format required, safely and securely.

What Is a Health Information Exchange?

The Affordable Care Act of 2010 created an optional Medicaid State Plan benefit for states to establish Health Information Exchanges (HIEs) to coordinate care for people with Medicaid who have chronic conditions. HIEs can sometimes look like data warehouses – receiving data and archiving it so that other participating providers can, with the proper consent, see the data from other providers. HIEs can also sometimes look like traffic cops, directing data from one provider to another, just making sure the files are secure and properly formatted. Generally, speaking, HIEs would only be found where there is a community of providers interested in providing care based on a client-centric philosophy – by integrating and coordinating all primary, acute, behavioral health, and long-term services and support to treat the whole person. One common example of an HIE is a Regional Health Information Systems (RHIO). But an HIE is really any third party than can receive and send health data.

Why Is Interoperability Important to My Agency?

In order to provide a single network of care provision for each care recipient, it is becoming increasingly critical for each health care provider, whether offering behavioral or physical care, to have an Electronic Health Record (EHR) to manage its data about its cases and services.  In fact, if behavioral health providers can integrate themselves into a network of care providers such that they are able to divert even a small percentage of potential ER visits, the money saved in our Medicaid and Medicare programs would ensure their survival for many years to come. Aside from the importance of electronic documentation is the technical issue of how to share Patient Health Information (PHI) safely and securely.  There are two issues at play here. One is the format and data contents of the data being shared. In many cases, HIEs are taking advantage of the support of the Federal government to work with a file called the Continuity of Care Document (CCD). The challenge lies in making sure that the record-keeping systems used by each respective organization can recognize the fields of the CCD in the same way. The second issue is how these files will actually be transmitted, safely and securely, from one system to another. Here again, there are several options, but the two most used are the HL7 file format and the Direct Protocol. Both have different uses, but both are widely accepted. Indeed, much of the conversation—and ever-changing requirements—revolve around this issue of Interoperability among databases, namely the capability of exchanging data automatically with other data management systems with correct interpretation of the information being shared.

Interoperability of AWARDS Software for Human Service Providers

At Foothold, we took proactive steps to prepare our providers to be part of this vision. We established a partnership with InterSystems, a global leader in software for connected care, and integrated with AWARDS the InterSystems HealthShare® platform, which is currently being used in HIEs extensively across the US and across the world.  Many of the agencies we serve would not be able to afford this level of sophistication on their own, but because of our partnership with InterSystems, providers who use AWARDS have the ability to leverage our product and service as part of a larger community, and participate in any Health Information Exchange across the country through our Interoperability Center. For any questions about Interoperability at Foothold or to get started with using AWARDS, contact us at We look forward to working with you to create the new landscape of care.
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