U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI) Governor Albert Bryan has signed a Letter of Intent with CRISP Shared Services to participate in a data and interoperability pilot program.

A press release from Gov. Bryan’s office said the pilot program will lay the foundation for the Office of Health Information Technology’s (OHIT) Health Information Exchange in the territory. CRISP Shared Services will operate the program using funds from multiple Federal health agencies.

“This Letter of Intent helps us finally test our ability to connect the health care and services-related data collected by our Government to ensure the proper identification and efficient delivery of services and enhance our care to Virgin Islands residents,” Gov. Bryan said. “It will provide health care professionals, agencies, and community organizations with key information to help them make quicker decisions and provide better treatments, resulting in more timely care and more positive outcomes with less burden to the patients.”

According to the governor’s office, the pilot program will establish the initial phase of the Virgin Island’s Health Information Exchange (HIE). The HIE will enable the sharing of health information among doctors’ offices, hospitals, federally qualified health centers, Department of Human Services Medicaid Division, Department of Health clinics, labs, radiology, identified community-based organizations, and other health care entities in real-time.

“The U.S. Virgin Islands are uniquely positioned to execute rapid modernization of their public health infrastructure. The engaged and thoughtful policymakers are already aligned with healthcare constituents, allowing for the development not only of basic interoperability through an HIE but also the full-scale development of a Health Data Utility (HDU),” said Craig Behm, CEO of CRISP Shared Service.

USVI explain that the HDU will function through the local government and will be used by healthcare professionals to enhance patient care, by public health officials to support the community, and by the Medicaid agency to treat vulnerable individuals.

OHIT Director Michelle M. Francis said in a statement that the pilot program will build the necessary infrastructure to enable USVI healthcare institutions and needed government agencies to prove out the minimum necessary data elements needed to create secure workflows between providers across the territory’s health system.

“This pilot is a win for the USVI as it gives us a safe and funded space to make the first tangible, technical steps in building our HIE with a nationally recognized, pre-certified, innovative technology organization,” Francis said. “We have already begun the behind-the-scenes work of building out a governance structure, and along with creating local policies and agreements that comply with Federal privacy and security standards to support the secure electronic exchange of health information, brings it all into focus and sets it into high gear now.”

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