ATLANTA, Aug. 10, 2023 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The Georgia Health Information Network (GaHIN), Georgia’s state-designated health information exchange (HIE), has received a $200,000 grant from Aetna, a CVS Health® company. The grant will fund a pilot project to demonstrate the feasibility and value of a closed-loop referral service that supports social care integration between healthcare organizations and community-based organizations. In addition to the funding, Aetna will be the first adopter of the program.

“An individual’s health is deeply influenced by a range of social determinants of health (SDOH) that, in addition to medical care, include access to food, housing, transportation and more,” said Georgia-based Sonya Nelson, Division President at Aetna Medicaid. “A robust, integrated social care network that ensures patients referred for services receive the needed support is central to improving outcomes.”

Providers caring for patients in need may make referrals for social care services, but often these referrals are not acted upon. The patient may not have transportation to get to a food bank, the ability to easily make or receive calls, or the tenacity to talk with multiple departments or agencies. Closed-loop referrals alert the social service provider of the need and then confirm that the connection has been made.

“This grant will be used to accelerate the development and implementation of GaHIN’s social care integration strategy and roadmap,” said GaHIN Executive Director Dr. Denise Hines, PMP, FHIMSS. “The insights, technology and best practices developed through this grant and pilot program will lay the foundation for broader expansion across the state of Georgia. Next steps will include identifying care and services communities and using the technology to create closed-loop referral networks on a community-by-community basis.”

“GaHIN has been at the forefront of providing data interoperability among healthcare providers and we are now taking steps to expand that important role by incorporating SDOH factors and supporting closed-loop referrals,” Dr. Hines continued. “This is an exciting time, and I believe we are at the inception of a new age in healthcare that will deliver improved outcomes through the integration of medical and social care.”

Established in 2009, GaHIN has successfully connected members consisting of regional HIEs, health systems, state government agencies and physicians. In 2022, members securely retrieved 14.1 million patient health documents. GaHIN is connected to the national eHealth Exchange, the largest national network, enabling data exchange with neighboring states and national health providers including the VA, and is also a member of DirectTrust, which enables its members to securely exchange information nationally with other providers who are using Direct.

About Georgia Health Information Network
Georgia Health Information Network (GaHIN) is an independent, nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a healthier Georgia through the use and exchange of electronic health information. GaHIN is the state-designated entity for health information exchange (HIE), enacting industry interoperability standards that enable connectivity between providers, state health agencies and national health information organizations. The result is improved quality of care, better health outcomes and reductions in cost. GaHIN’s two products, GeorgiaDirect® and GeorgiaConnX®, connect providers statewide and nationally and are free for credentialed, authorized Georgia users.