HSX, Food Alliance Partnership Extends Data-Sharing to Food, Nutrition

July 24, 2018
The Philadelphia-based Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) has become a participating member of HealthShare Exchange (HSX), which enables the food alliance to receive important medical updates from HSX on its clients.

The Philadelphia-based Metropolitan Area Neighborhood Nutrition Alliance (MANNA) has become a participating member of HealthShare Exchange (HSX), which enables the food alliance to receive important medical updates from HSX on its clients. 

HSX is the regional nonprofit health information exchange serving Greater Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley, including southeastern Pennsylvania and southern New Jersey. MANNA is the well-established and widely respected Philadelphia nonprofit focusing on delivering nourishment to persons of modest means who are battling life-threatening illnesses, according to a press release.

Collaboration between these two organizations will help to guide modifications in the nutritional support services provided to ill low-income patients. With the daily updates from HSX, MANNA will now know when its clients have had a healthcare event involving an encounter with a medical center, and will be able to adjust services to these individuals accordingly, according to both organizations.

This new partnership will permit MANNA to stay more up to date on the health status and food-as-medicine needs of its clients.

“Taking advantage of HealthShare Exchange’s data feed will allow us to be an even more-active ongoing partner in our clients’ medical status. We look forward to using these real-time updates coming from HSX to ensure that our clients’ needs are met quickly and efficiently,” Nicole Laverty, director, nutrition and client services at MANNA. 

The food alliance now subscribes to HSX’s Encounter Notification service, which provides electronic alerts to MANNA when one of its clients has a healthcare encounter at one of the region’s medical facilities.  With knowledge of these healthcare encounters and the reasons for them, the community organization can reach out to patients in a more timely fashion and tailor nutrition services for individuals.

“One of our challenges has been to stay informed on the condition of each of our clients, so that we can better help them,” Ann Hoskins, MANNA’s director of policy and institutional affairs, said in a statement. “We’ve had a significant need, for example, for more timely data on patient visits to the hospital, especially their interface with emergency departments.”
With this partnership, MANNA will not only know about these events but will be able to query additional detail on the health status of their clients by accessing HSX’s clinical data repository. This service offers a portal to a database of more detailed reports on recent patient medical care, in the form of continuity of care documents (CCDs). The dieticians and other staff members at MANNA can then update a client’s indicated diet and required food restrictions, as well as their delivery schedule, in prompt coordination with the person’s medical care. Furthermore, MANNA will provide data back to HSX, including nutritional updates that can become part of the patient’s medical record in the regional data repository.

“We’re thrilled that, in this way, we can help MANNA’s staff to become an even better-informed and more crucial part of the care team of these chronically or severely sick patients in Philadelphia,” Daniel Wilt, HSX’s senior director of information technology and chief information security officer (CISO).  “We’ve come together with MANNA because we support their mission and because our two organizations believe, as we’ve said, that ‘data plus food equal better outcomes.’”

MANNA also has collaborated with another HSX member—Health Partners Plans (HPP), a regional Medicaid/Medicare insurance-benefit manager. Since 2015, MANNA has delivered more than 560,000 meals to more than 2,100 HPP members suffering from illnesses that include diabetes, heart disease, malnutrition, and kidney failure. Results from this partnership in Pennsylvania show lower HbA1c scores for 26 percent of diabetic members and decreased utilization and costs for inpatient admissions and emergency room visits. Findings reveal an overall medical cost reduction of 19 percent on a per-member-per-month basis for those patients receiving nutritional support. HSX member Aetna and other insurers have also added the food benefit for their Medicaid enrollees in the Philadelphia area.