As founder and CEO of the consulting firm CedarBridge Group™, and now also of a new digital health start-up, Midato Health™, I have long believed a collective voice is missing from discussions of data interoperability across the healthcare and social service domains. The voices left out of connected care conversations are those of individuals, who in most cases, aren’t offered the opportunity to, for example, authorize their healthcare provider or mental health counselor to make their information available to a social service agency, in order to connect them with beneficial services.

There are endless references to person-centered healthcare these days, and very legitimate efforts focused on data interoperability to help connect electronic health record systems to share information with other data systems (e.g., labs, pharmacies, public health registries). However, when communities try to address information availability, many efforts become mired with policies, poorly aligned regulations, cultural philosophies, and business tactics; all which prevent progress toward more connected care. It turns out standardizing data to improve interoperability is only one part of making information available; connecting bread crumbs of information about vulnerable individuals and families across siloed state and local agencies, community-based organizations, healthcare providers, school districts, and at times, justice systems, requires giving individuals control over when, how, with whom, and for what purpose, sensitive information about their health or their needs is shared between organizations.

In 2016, after being part of scores of meetings with healthcare stakeholders where barriers and opportunities to achieve data interoperability were debated, CedarBridge Group took a leap and entered the Move Health Data Forward Challenge, sponsored by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). We designed and developed a smartphone app giving individuals the ability to provide electronic consent to share sensitive data about their mental health with an attributed primary care provider. As one of five companies in the final round of the ONC Challenge in 2017, CedarBridge demonstrated the interest and willingness of individuals to use the CareApprove™ app when clients of psychology practices in Pennsylvania shared screening results with their primary care provider at UPMC.

The pilot was successful; individuals and their healthcare providers both found CareApprove to be useful. Since completing the Pennsylvania proof-of-concept, CedarBridge combined the lessons of the ONC Challenge pilot with thousands of hours of additional research across a variety of domains to develop a communication platform for managing all types of documentation between individuals and the organizations connected to their care.

Fast forward to January 2020, when we spun Midato Health out of CedarBridge as an independent technology solution vendor, with the goal of commercializing our first product: ShareApprove™. We used our policy and program know-how to address barriers to making information available, in game-changing ways that will advance coordination of care and services, accelerate clinical research, improve inefficient administrative processes, and support better outcomes for individuals who receive healthcare and/or are in need of social support services.

I am very proud of the teams of talented individuals who make up our sister companies, CedarBridge Group and Midato Health. We are excited to spread the news that ShareApprove offers a person-centered communication and consent-management tool with an array of benefits to both individuals and systems of care, including:

  • enabling individuals to authorize specific organizations as care team members who are permitted to access sensitive health records, and to provide explicit consent for disclosure of their information;
  • connecting patients to researchers and resources for participation in clinical trials or to contribute data to research registries, while also giving researchers access to larger data sets from which to identify cohorts for trials;
  • providing a registry for emergency responders and providers to search for an individual’s end-of-life treatment preferences, captured in an advance directive or Physician (or Medical) Orders for Life Sustaining Treatment (POLST or MOLST) form;
  • improving quality measures in value-based payment models by increasing response rates on patient surveys and patient-reported outcomes.

Making information available to achieve these and other critical improvements in systems of care is dependent on engaging and empowering individuals. This is at the core of Midato Health’s mission. We believe by improving the byzantine consent management processes many organizations experience now, efficiencies will be created, and liability risks will be reduced. And, by streamlining communications with individuals served by multiple entities, better care; better outcomes; better cost controls; and more satisfied consumers, will result. Those are just some of the benefits of ShareApprove. We look forward to talking about how we can work together to further its adoption and use.