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Bridging Louisiana’s Health Care Divide with Strategic Health Information Exchange

October 18, 2023

Member Spotlight with PelEX

Written by Malik Chambers and Kelsey Matheson

In the heart of Louisiana, where communities stand together and face challenges head-on, PelEX stands tall as a beacon of hope and progress as it relates to health care data sharing and transformation. PelEX plays a pivotal role in fostering unity among Louisiana’s diverse communities by bridging data gaps and ensuring that every individual receives the best possible care through the timely and informed efforts of on-demand health information sharing. In this blog post, we explore the transformative work being done at PelEX and the power of health information exchange (HIE).

Let’s dive in.

PelEX’s roots trace back to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, a defining moment in Louisiana’s history. This organization, originally known as the Greater New Orleans Health Information Exchange, emerged from the chaos and devastation as a symbol of resilience and determination to promote care coordination and accessibility to primary care when people desperately needed it citywide.

Recognizing the need Hurricane Katrina brought forth, the Greater New Orleans Health Information Exchange was established with leadership from a strong network of Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) that has continued to grow over the years. Since then, the original need for the Greater New Orleans Health Information Exchange has extended to a statewide information exchange network. This led to the organizational rebrand as PelEX, with a name and logo that pays homage to Louisiana’s nickname, the Pelican State.

Building Trust in Health Information Exchange: The Cornerstone of PelEX

When discussing the most challenging issue within the health data-sharing industry, Kyla Mor, the Director of Product Development, noted trust as a critical factor. Building authentic partnerships and trust takes time, often years. While it’s a rewarding process, imagine the possibilities if trust could be established magically, allowing more time for meaningful work together.

PelEX places an unwavering emphasis on trust, recognizing its pivotal role in health data information exchange. Trust isn’t just a prerequisite for data sharing; it’s a cornerstone for meaningful collaboration and cross-sector work. PelEX ensures a secure and reliable environment where patients, stakeholders, and all participants can confidently engage in the exchange of patient health information, knowing that their data is handled with the utmost care and integrity. Safeguarding patient data is paramount at PelEX. They operate in strict adherence to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and federal privacy laws, employing rigorous policies, procedures, and cutting-edge technology to preserve the confidentiality and integrity of patient information.

Beyond data security, PelEX recognizes that trust is built through responsive and collaborative interactions. By actively seeking and listening to participants’ requests and feedback, PelEX engages in a meaningful dialogue with its stakeholders. This demonstrates their commitment to meeting the needs and expectations of those they serve. Furthermore, acting on this feedback to drive product development showcases a dedication to improvement and a willingness to adapt to meet evolving demands.

PelEX’s Community Commitment and Impact on Medicaid in Louisiana

PelEX’s commitment goes beyond data exchange – they are deeply aligned with Louisiana Medicaid’s population health and interoperability efforts. For example, PelEX is addressing the issue of declining due to the end of the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency and unwinding of the Medicaid continuous enrollment condition. Collaborating with the Louisiana Department of Health, they work tirelessly to integrate and streamline Medicaid data with participants’ EHR data to identify and prevent eligible individuals from losing vital health coverage unnecessarily. Their participants are using PelEX data services to drive outreach programs and education campaigns, which are making a tangible difference in the lives of Louisiana residents.

What sets PelEX apart is its passionate commitment to supporting Medicaid populations and community-based providers serving underserved communities. This cultural ethos, within the broader framework of the Louisiana Public Health Institute, underlines their dedication to bridging health care disparities, improving access, and enhancing the quality of care for those who need it most.

Why PelEX Got Involved with Civitas Networks for Health, Insights from Kyla Mor

Beyond individual growth, membership with Civitas Networks for Health presents PelEX with the chance to tap into a nationwide network of like-minded organizations. Learning from the experiences and best practices of peers across the country enhances PelEX’s ability to adapt and innovate in the ever-evolving health care landscape. This cross-pollination of ideas and strategies bolsters PelEX’s capacity to provide innovative health care technology solutions to their communities. Moreover, exclusive access to training, funding opportunities, and valuable resources further equips PelEX to advance its mission and extend its positive impact on health care accessibility, making its involvement in Civitas Networks for Health a mutually beneficial partnership.

PelEX team walking the streets of National Harbor following the Civitas 2023 Annual Conference.

Joining Civitas Networks for Health as a member has offered PelEX a wealth of benefits, aligning perfectly with its mission to enhance health care accessibility and quality. One opportunity was for Kyla Mor to participate in the Civitas Emerging Leaders Council, a unique platform that has empowered Kyla with mentorship and professional development opportunities, allowing her to gain insights from seasoned leaders within the health care industry while also learning directly from peers on their leadership journey. I joined the Emerging Leaders Council in 2022, which has unlocked more opportunities for professional development and mentorship,” said Kyla. “One of my favorite parts is hearing from senior leaders across the Civitas network about their career journeys and professional development advice. As a small HIE, we really benefit from having access to a national network of peers and experts to learn from and to help us navigate challenges and opportunities.”

PelEX’s remarkable journey from its origins in the wake of Hurricane Katrina to its current role as a vital HIE network in Louisiana exemplifies the transformative power of resilience, dedication, and trust the organization has built over the 20 years. Through their mission-driven work, PelEX is actively shaping the future of health care accessibility and equity in the Pelican State.

To learn more about PelEX’s work, please visit their website.