Expanding Datavant Switchboard for Digital Release of Information

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Travis May
April 21, 2022

Today, we are excited to announce the expansion of the Datavant Switchboard to digitize the process of secure patient data release.

This post outlines how patient data moves throughout the healthcare system today, how the Datavant Switchboard is transforming release of information, and where the platform is going in the future.

Today, whether you are a patient or a health care provider, requesting health records is way too difficult. Depending on the complexity of the request, the process of releasing the right clinical data to the right people can take weeks (or months) and lots of manual effort. Even where records reside in an electronic form, the process still requires a lot of discretion and human intervention because many providers have disparate electronic record systems. To make matters worse, many records are not electronic — fax machines and paper forms still play a large role when requesting and releasing clinical information.

This arduous process is more than just an inconvenience for patients: lives can be saved by ensuring that doctors have the right data about a patient at their fingertips. For instance, walking into the Emergency Department with an older parent without their list of medications can delay treatment due to the possibility of drug-drug interactions.

Moreover, personalized medical treatment, value-based care, and a variety of other step-changes that can significantly improve standard-of-care and reduce cost are predicated on the ability to rapidly accesspull patient health data from across the U.S. healthcare system.

As providers receive an increasing number and variety of requests for patient health data, the siloed nature of Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems, plus the overlay of privacy regulations, make the release of that critical information manual, slow, and fraught with risk. Each request received must be verified and validated, which requires work to ensure that the requester is authorized, that they are who they say they are, and that accurate and complete information can be pulled and transmitted.

The goal of this extension of Datavant Switchboard is simple: we want to make it easier for providers to deliver health care data to patients or other authorized requesters while preserving patient privacy.

How Datavant Switchboard Transforms Health Data Exchange

Datavant Switchboard can enable secure request, retrieval, and digital delivery of patients’ clinical data. The Switchboard does so by connecting to providers’ electronic health record systems through application programming interfaces (APIs) and digitally enabling providers’ to release data in a manner consistent with their internal controls and compliance rules.

Currently, Datavant Switchboard digitizes the process for some requester types. In the future, health systems will be able to digitally release records to all authorized requesters.

Datavant Switchboard will allow providers to:

Connect authorized requesters to providers’ EHR or data warehouse digitally resulting in:

  • Faster turnaround time
  • A seamless experience for patients and other requesters
  • An efficient and scalable process to manage the fluctuating volume of requests for clinical data

Configure controls that enforce the release of information rules set by each provider for each type of request

  • Health records are only released to the right entity at the right time for an authorized purpose
  • Only the records necessary to fulfill the request are released, and only the approved information within the record
  • Healthcare providers can set local level policy enforcement around what data is being released and to whom
  • The entire process is audited with a complete digital record of all requests, data released, and recipients of data

Through the Datavant Switchboard, health systems can customize the rules that need to be followed when releasing clinical data to authorized requestors

Comply with the appropriate regulations and quality standards

  • Validate each request for relevant authorization
  • Ensure that the records match the subject of the request and ensure retrieved record completeness with built-in quality controls

The Datavant Switchboard Today

Today, Datavant Switchboard is being used by 44 health systems, made up of 350 hospitals and over 4,000 clinics, to digitize significant elements of their release of information process.

What the Switchboard unlocks today:

  • Digitizing the Release of Information Process. Through the Switchboard, providers can digitize the release of information process, reducing manual administration oversight and making it easier for patients and other requesters to receive the requested information quickly and compliantly. Health care providers can continue to manage access and use of data in accordance with their obligations under HIPAA.
  • Reducing abrasion between health insurance payers and providers. Insurance companies often need clinical data derived from health records held by providers for risk adjustment, to further understand the value derived from care, and to receive reimbursements from the government. When collecting this information digitally from providers using Switchboard, payers avoid friction with providers because there is no need to call repeatedly to receive charts.

Datavant Switchboard in the Future

As we expand the capabilities of Datavant Switchboard, we will begin to enable exciting use cases in the future for providers who opt in to these capabilities. Possibilities for new use cases range from unlocking value-based care to powering life science collaborations.

In the coming years, Datavant will continue to build out the Switchboard to serve as the neutral, trusted, and ubiquitous technology powering the connectivity of data across healthcare. By enabling the release of health data, we can work with our many customers and partners to build a healthcare system with better patient outcomes, reduced cost, and improved quality of care.


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