"We consider this to be another one of our exciting Primed by PCC Health Force projects that will change the face of healthcare in our community and across the country," said Project Director Shawnda Sullivan. "We are excited at the opportunity to develop a blueprint for an accurate and responsive workforce database that will ensure Maryland residents have access to the physicians and and other healthcare providers who meet their specific needs for quality health care." Sullivan is PCC’s director for community physician engagement.
The data clearinghouse will be organized across provider types, disciplines, and settings, allowing the state to better address health disparities among populations at high risk of poor health outcomes and the medically underserved, including racial and ethnic minority populations and rural communities. The need for the clearinghouse is critical considering the pandemic's impact on the healthcare workforce.
The Maryland Department of Health selected PCC to develop this blueprint with funding from the National Initiative to Address COVID-19 Health Disparities Among Populations at High-Risk and Underserved, including Racial and Ethnic Minority Populations and Rural Communities and the MDH Office of Population Health Improvement.
PCC has a history of developing and implementing successful IT projects that improve communication among healthcare organizations. Those projects include building and deploying CHLCare—an open-source, web-based electronic medical record that created a more integrated system of care among independent safety-net clinics—and leading the partnership to develop MeDHIX—an early effort to share patient information among hospitals and safety-net clinics serving uninsured patients in the Greater Washington region.
In addition, PCC continues to manage large population health programs within the community, such as the Nexus Montgomery Regional Partnership. During the pandemic, PCC’s Nexus Montgomery and Population Health team used the existing Skilled Nursing Facility (SNF) Alliance for quality improvement to build dashboards on SNF bed availability. These dashboards helped Nexus Montgomery partner hospitals manage their surge capacity by discharging COVID-positive patients who needed less acute care to SNFs with the necessary isolation areas and PPE stockpiles to care for them.
In addition to Sullivan, who provides project leadership and serves as the primary point of engagement for stakeholders, the PCC staff working on the project are Mindy Pierce, senior director of Nexus Montgomery and Population Health, Fareed Anjum, director, Data and Informatics, and Thomas Lewis, M.D., chief information officer, who will provide technical leadership, oversight, and guidance.
The project involves assessing existing models and mapping the information ecosystem to determine what kinds of data currently exist and how it is stored for future sharing. It also includes designing the technical capabilities and cost estimates for a future system to collect, store, and share current healthcare workforce data. With the clearinghouse in place, the state can identify and address healthcare workforce gaps to improve population health and health equity.
The project started in April with a review of current clearinghouse models and will continue through 2022.