EMPIs combating COVID-19

EMPIs can contribute to combating COVID-19

COVID-19 now dominates our conversations, the news, and is creating reactions ranging from panic to eyerolls.  In recent days it has also brought our personal data to light. 

Today, Dr. Ross Martin, MD, MHA, FAMIA as a 20+ year member of HIMSS and current Board member implored HIMSS to make the bold and powerful decision to cancel next week’s HIMSS 2020 conference.  https://lnkd.in/e9qFSRZ 

Instead he advocated that HIMSS should use the time to invite a more limited number of experts and developers who can contribute to rapid development of collaborative IT supports for the emerging epidemic. 

We support this position and we believe that health IT, industry and government working together collaboratively can make an impact. 

On March 4th, the White House called in the CEOs of the major U.S. airlines to discuss their role in providing data to help the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) track the progress of the Novel Coronavirus.  Vice President Pence said that he wanted to “talk about even greater cooperation from the airlines”.  But what form would this cooperation take?  Changing routes?  Closing off access to certain cities or countries?  No, the Vice President was talking about passenger data. 

In February of 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services and CDC instructed the airline industry to share “each traveler’s name, email and U.S. address, plus two telephone numbers.” But airlines say they don’t have this data for most of their passengers. 

  • 26% of passengers don’t have a phone number in their travel record 
  • 44% of passenger profiles don’t include an email 
  • 50.8% of Americans only have a mobile phone instead of a home and cell  

The airlines make the argument that the U.S. Government already has whatever contact information they need in the applications for visas, authorization documents for travel, and “trusted traveler” profiles.  If the government already has the data, why can’t they put it together? 

Healthcare IT and Enterprise Master Person Indexes 

We’ve long known that in Healthcare, an EMPI effectively links records together from multiple systems creating a complete, comprehensive, and up to date person record.  EMPI solutions such as IMT Master:ID™ exist in over 60% of all healthcare providers and insurers.   

The impact of linking these EMPIs together and then linking with traveler data would be an extremely effective tool for the CDC to combat the spread of the COVID-19 virus.  Many reading this blog will point out the valid concerns about overreach, privacy, security, and trust in the governance and stewardship of their data.   

But it cannot be denied that taking this action would have an extremely significant impact on reducing the spread of COVID-19. 

Throughout our shared history, a crisis has often overcome inertia and roadblocks.   

Instead of industry and government debating costs, constitutionality, and compliance, we should take up the call to have experts and developers come together and contribute to the rapid development of solutions to address this emerging pandemic.  A significant piece of the solution is already here and lies in the EMPI systems of healthcare providers. The systems, knowledge, and talent exist to bring these together.  At IMT we are ready to help.  Where the leadership comes from to make this collaboration work remains the question we must answer. 

Brian Eckhardt, CEO