Columbia, MD – CRISP, the state-designated health information exchange (HIE) connecting health care providers and the Maryland Department of Health, will soon begin to exchange information with institutions in the University System of Maryland (USM) to enable rapid support for students testing positive for COVID-19. By securely linking clinical data with student rosters under these new agreements, public health and university officials will be better able to maintain safe learning environments.
USM officials had recognized the need for timely information regarding COVID-19 test results, and working with staff at CRISP, identified two critical ways to leverage the HIE while respecting student privacy. First, testing data will be shared with those USM campuses currently participating in the CRISP partnership; with all testing results provided only in aggregate form and de-identified, unless specific authorization has been provided by the student. Second, contact tracers working on behalf of the state and local health departments will be made aware that the infected person is a student. By identifying students, local response plans can be acted on immediately and duplicative outreach will be avoided.
The first such data-sharing arrangements with Towson University and University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) went live this week, and USM and CRISP officials expect additional USM institutions to follow in the coming weeks. Although the HIE is versed in dealing with high volumes of sensitive data, the USM campuses have started the process with a pilot out of an abundance of caution.
“CRISP specializes in collecting sensitive health care information and then making it available for treating clinicians and similarly approved users. While the universities are not a technically complicated setup, they are an exciting new way to leverage our exchange system,” said Craig Behm, the Maryland Executive Director for CRISP.
“Our first priority is the well-being of our USM students, faculty, and staff, and we embrace every practice, every technology, every collaboration that helps us keep our people safe,” said USM Chancellor Jay A. Perman. “Working with CRISP allows us to be more proactive in how we use critical health data and accelerate the steps we take to protect the communities in which our students live and learn. We can’t guarantee COVID-free campuses, but we can be smart about how we work with the data we have to mitigate disease spread and lower the risk of infection.”
As the state’s reopening efforts continue, CRISP leaders hope they can further support the safe resumption of activities. “We have a robust infrastructure with which we can understand the crisis in near real-time,” Behm said. “I hope we can find other appropriate ways to leverage our state-designated HIE.”
CRISP is a regional health information exchange (HIE) serving Maryland, the District of Columbia, West Virginia, and the surrounding regions. A non-profit organization advised by a wide range of stakeholders who are responsible for healthcare throughout the region, CRISP has been formally designated as Maryland’s statewide health information exchange by the Maryland Health Care Commission. Health information exchange allows clinical information to move electronically among disparate health information systems. For more information about CRISP, visit www.crisphealth.org.
Contact: Craig Behm
Maryland Executive Director
Phone: 410 872-0823