What They’re Watching: Bill Pearch, healtheconnect Alaska

Bill Pearch is the Chief Information Officer at healtheconnect Alaska, the statewide health information exchange. He joins us in this edition of “What They’re Watching” to discuss making information actionable.



“The one thing I’m watching in health care really is how we can leverage information and make it actionable and reduce the amount of what I would refer to as very careful guessing that physicians have to do. A lot of times you don’t see the information until you go looking for it. So, how do we get that information in front of a provider in such a way that doesn’t overwhelm them with too much useless stuff, but instead gives them stuff they can actually make use of? And how do we get it to the right provider because the right provider isn’t always a physician or even a PA or a nurse practitioner. Sometimes the right provider is going to be somebody like the food bank or a social services agency. So, getting the information to one of those providers to get the care needed — whether it’s based on social determinants of health or a diagnosis code — is really something that I’m watching.

As we look at social determinants of health, one of them is some sort of food insecurity. That’s great, if a provider asks, ‘have you had a couple of days where you have gone without food or where you’ve not been sure where your next meal was coming from,’ and you get that information, what do you do with it? In a small practice you might have to have a case manager go out and talk to someone else and route things around. And even then, the information about that individual may not get to the food bank or the food pantry. So, as we collect this information, as we ask providers to collect this information and document it and take the time to do it, we don’t need to lay on them more requirements for them to do stuff. If the systems can take a look at these social determinants of health metrics and identify, here we have a client/a patient with a need, and have the system automatically connect them with the right social services agency so that social service agency can engage them, then we are doing something with the information. We’re making it actionable while at the same time we’re not causing physicians to have to do more work.”