Executive Director Update as the SHIN-NY Continues to Provide Critical COVID-19 Support

The last three months have been a whirlwind, a period full of uncertainty and fear, but also strength and determination. The healthcare community and its intrepid frontline workers were confronted with a crisis that developed and evolved with no clear end in sight. From hospitals and their direct care providers to emergency responders, public health departments, ambulatory and community providers, and so many others—this has forged a new frontier in healthcare that continues to require tremendous collaboration, coordination, innovation, and nimbleness. It has been inspiring to observe and a true honor to lead an organization contributing to these efforts in its own way. The SHIN-NY has supported the surge, helped stop the spread, and contributed to a better understanding of COVID-19. 

Alerts continue to be sent to providers, notifying them of COVID-19 test results and informing care decisions. Qualified Entities (QEs) are actively sending key clinical data to state and local health departments, strengthening response efforts both now and in the future. Providers across the state are continuing to deliver care in new ways, outside of the traditional clinical environments, and the SHIN-NY is supporting this change with efficient access to clinical information that can better inform their assessments and decisions. The SHIN-NY is supporting public health efforts and supplementing contact tracing efforts statewide. 

Recently, SHIN-NY data was used to supplement research in a DOH-authored study exploring the association of treatment with hydroxychloroquine and patients with COVID-19. The data, combined with other information, helped aid researchers in understanding the application of the drug with mortality and other potential negative outcomes. More on the results of this important work can be found here 

We made a number of temporary emergency policy changes related to current written consent requirements to help patients and support the response effort. COVID-19 knows no boundaries, it is not contained by regional or state lines or jurisdictions. We will be evaluating policy changes to modernize and support more sharing of clinical information for patient treatment and public health.  

We remain proud of the work accomplished, in conjunction with the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and our QE partners, to support the state’s recovery and plan for the road ahead. The SHIN-NY will continue to be leveraged whenever possible and appropriate. 

As New York State begins the phased approach of reopening, we undoubtedly begin to feel a sense of both hope and anxiety at the idea of a return to life before the pandemic hit. Of course, we have all become familiar with the phrase “new normal” and know we must stay vigilant and do all we can to continue to treat COVID-19, prevent future spread, while also preparing for its potential resurgence.   

Preparing to face and overcome these challenges together, I find myself reflecting often on our mission: to improve healthcare through the exchange of health information whenever and wherever needed. The lessons we have learned and will keep learning from this pandemic have only further emphasized the need for this type of collaborative, public utility for health information sharing. I am thankful for our many partnerships and look forward to what we can continue to achieve together to improve health care throughout our communities. 

Take care,

Valerie Grey
Executive Director
New York eHealth Collaborative