TU pilots USM health information exchange partnership

By: Meghan Hudson, Editor-in-Chief

Towson University and the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) are piloting the new University System of Maryland (USM) partnership with the Chesapeake Regional Information System for our Patients (CRISP),  the state-designated health information exchange (HIE) connecting health care providers and the Maryland Department of Health.

“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,” USM stated in a press release

According to Towson University President Kim Schatzel, the partnership will help universities become aware of positive tests conducted outside of the University.

“What it basically provides is the fact that students, faculty and staff will have to volunteer to participate, but if somebody tests positive, you can submit the test from different places,” Schatzel said. “So if you go to Medstar Health and you get a test, that result will come through us and we’ll be able to know about it. Also our results will go to the state level to be able to have that as well. So it’ll accelerate contact tracing as well as sharing of data for this.”

The plan is for CRISP to eventually exchange information with all USM affiliated universities, to allow for faster communication with students who test positive for COVID-19.

“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,” USM stated.

Maryland Executive Director for CRISP, Craig Behm, expressed confidence in CRISP’s ability to properly handle abundant amounts of sensitive information.

“‘CRISP specializes in collecting sensitive health care information and then making it available for treating clinicians and similarly approved users,’” Behm told USM. “‘While the universities are not a technically complicated setup, they are an exciting new way to leverage our exchange system. We have a robust infrastructure with which we can understand the crisis in near real-time. I hope we can find other appropriate ways to leverage our state-designated HIE.’” 

USM Chancellor, Jay A. Perman, expressed the importance of utilizing advanced resources in the midst of the pandemic.

“‘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,’” Perman said. “‘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.’”

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