February Update

Friday, February 7, 2020

New National HIE Survey Shows Significant Interoperable Health Data Exchange with Community and Social Service Organizations

While many in the health care industry are waiting for a set of final interoperability rules for the 21st Century Cures Act to be released, a collaborative of health information exchanges (HIEs) across the country demonstrated through its first annual survey the depth and breadth of health information being shared across the country. At last week’s Office of National Coordinator Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C., the Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) reported robust connections with community and social service organizations and the movement of significant volumes of data by more than 50 regional and state HIEs. Results of the survey were presented by David Kendrick, MD, MPH. Dr. Kendrick and his team at the University of Oklahoma compiled the results of the survey.

According to the survey, nearly all responding HIEs have partnered with one or more of the following communities and social service organizations: correctional health, social service agencies, drug and alcohol treatment programs, first responders, school nurses or blood banks. The responding SHIEC HIEs are exchanging 3.3 billion messages annually and delivering 453 million alerts of admissions, discharges and transfers (ADTs) to HIE participants to improve coordination of care, including nationwide HIE to HIE alerts through the Patient Centered Data Home™ (PCDH) initiative.

“In North Carolina we are proud to be a part of the HIE fabric that is knitting connected communities of care across the nation and bringing much-needed health information to providers across a patient’s care continuum,” said Christie Burris, executive director for the NC HIEA. 

Community HIEs are serving nearly all Americans and deliver significant, valuable data, according to Dr. Kendrick. “In a value-based health care environment, HIEs are partnering with the community and social service agencies that help clinicians care for the whole patient, and they are exchanging significantly more data than any other national exchange network,” he said. 

Dr. Kendrick also noted the growing presence and value of the Patient Centered Data Home™ initiative (PCDH). “PCDH is the only nationwide interoperability network to proactively deliver alerts, and it continues to grow rapidly, ensuring that patients’ information follows them wherever they seek care. America’s community HIEs span the nation today and are a cost-effective component of critical national infrastructure,” Kendrick said.

The PCDH is a cost-effective, scalable method of exchanging patient data among HIEs. It is based on triggering episode alerts, which notify providers a care event has occurred outside of the patient’s “home” HIE, and confirms the availability and specific location of the clinical data, enabling providers to initiate additional data exchanges to access real-time information across state and regional lines and the care continuum. 

NC HealthConnex went live on the PCDH network in late 2019, and will be working with its participants to include out-of-state alerts into the NC*Notify event notification service as well as in the NC HealthConnex clinical portal.

The survey results demonstrate real progress for the SHIEC community, according to Kelly Hoover Thompson, CEO of SHIEC. “These results not only demonstrate tangible progress toward interoperability in the sheer volume of alerts and transactions, they also underscore the value of the SHIEC community in supporting and gathering data from community and social service organizations that advance care for the whole patient,” Thompson said.

Results of the survey are available here.

ONC Annual Meeting Highlights

The Office of National Coordinator (ONC) held its 10th Annual Meeting - Connecting Policy and Technology: Bringing the EHR to the Patient - January 27-28, in Washington, D.C. NC HIEA representatives joined other health IT partners across the country for a combination of plenaries and breakout sessions that covered a variety of health IT topics focused on patient privacy and patient access to their records, barriers and innovations in data access and exchange, as well as value-based care and transparency. While the long-awaited interoperability rules have not yet been finalized, ONC and HHS leadership were vocal in their support to break down silos so that patients have broader access to their medical records. From ONC’s highlights:

  • “We need not just digitized records, but records that are transportable and interoperable – that can be easily accessed and used in different forms.” - secretary of U.S. Department of Health & Human Services Alex Azar
  • “There should be an app economy and the entrepreneurial juices of the country should be allowed to be unleashed in healthcare to give patients choice.” - ONC’s national coordinator, Dr. Don Rucker

For more information on the annual meeting, click here. Plenary session recordings are now live.

Additionally, ONC is encouraging public comment on the recently released draft 2020-2025 Federal Health IT Strategic Plan. The draft plan defines a set of goals, objectives and strategies the federal government will pursue to empower patients, deliver high-quality care, and improve health for individuals, families and communities through the use of health IT. The public comment period on the draft plan ends March 18, at 11:59 PM ET. View the draft plan.

The NC HealthConnex Team Welcomes All New Participants! 

Welcome to our new participants to NC HealthConnex. An important component to connecting to NC HealthConnex is educating patients about how their medical records will be shared to improve patient care. To help providers, the NC HIEA developed patient education materials for participants to use in patient communications. The materials are available at the links below.

  • NC HIEA webpage for patients
  • Patient Infographic – News About Your Medical Records that You Can Feel Good About
  • Patient Education – Information and resources for patients to learn about the benefits of NC HealthConnex
  • Data Policies – We recommend that you review the data policies on our website. Specifically, all participants should take time to read over the User Access Policy, Privacy and Security Policy, and the Behavioral Health Sensitive Data Policy.
  • Opt Out – English and Spanish forms – Please use the linked forms provided or direct patients to the NC HealthConnex website page.

    For a complete list of NC HealthConnex participants, click here.

NC HIEA Calendar of Events

  • How to Connect Call – Monday, February 24, at 12 p.m. To register, click here
  • Rural Health Symposium – Thursday, February 27, at 7:30 a.m. To register, click here
  • HIEA Advisory Board Meeting – Friday, March 20, at 2 p.m. For more information, click here

The NC HealthConnex Team Answers Your Frequently Asked Questions

The FAQ section of the NC HIEA website contains answers to commonly asked questions. For the most up-to-date answers to your questions, please follow the link here.

Training and Education Requests

Training is now available through your local Area Health Education Center (AHEC). To request training, please complete the linked form

If your organization would like a member of the HIEA Outreach Team to present at a meeting or conference, please contact Jessica Brehmer at Jessica.Brehmer@nc.gov.

How to Receive NC HealthConnex Email Updates

Please make sure the following two email addresses are whitelisted so you receive important information regarding NC HealthConnex!

  • No-replies-hie@sas.com: Information about the NC HealthConnex clinical portal will come from this email address. This includes the email to set up your portal credentials when a NC HealthConnex user account is created.
  • Replies-disabled@sas.com: The Quarterly User Audit comes from this email address. The Participant Account Administrators who manage user accounts for their organization should receive an audit email each quarter. The last audit email went out January 13, 2020. Please check your junk mail if you do not find it in your inbox.

In Other News

UNC Health Care Adopts CarePort’s Care Coordination Platform Across 12 Hospitals - CarePort Health, a Boston, MA-based provider of care coordination and post-acute outcomes management has announced its collaboration with NC HealthConnex, North Carolina’s new and modernized health information exchange (HIE). www.hitconsultant.net

Rucker: Patient data access, choice is at heart of ONC rule - The Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT is pushing forward with a proposed rule meant to ensure patient access to their electronic healthcare information. www.healthdatamanagement.com

Why Aren’t More Patients Electronically Accessing Their Medical Records (Yet)? - In November 2019, Health Affairs published an article by Sunny C. Lin and colleagues that analyzed data on the number of patients who accessed their health records online as a result of the federal Promoting Interoperability Program (formerly known as Meaningful Use). www.healthaffairs.org

Physician Leaders Opine on the Ascension-Google Collaboration—and the Dangers Inherent in Data-Sharing - As Drs. Wachter and Cassel write, “In November 2019, The Wall Street Journal revealed that Ascension, a large nonprofit Catholic health system with facilities in 23 states, had allied with Google to share data about millions of patients, under the code name “Project Nightingale.” The goal was to store patient information in Google’s cloud, then apply machine-learning technology to deliver recommendations or predictions to clinicians and administrators at Ascension. www.hcinnovationgroup.com

NC AHEC Program Announces Partnership with the North Carolina Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA) - The North Carolina Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) Program has partnered with the North Carolina Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA) to deliver virtual and on-site training programs to educate providers about the features available in NC HealthConnex, the state-designated health information exchange. www.ncahec.net

Author: 
Emily Hughes