March Update

Thursday, March 12, 2020

NC HIEA Presents at Rural Health Symposium 

Recently, the North Carolina Health Information Exchange Authority presented at the Rural Health Symposium hosted by Eastern Area Health Education Center (AHEC). The sessions discussed the need for an interoperable health information exchange (HIE) where providers can seamlessly access and use health information from different sources to create a longitudinal picture of their patients’ health. 

Eastern Area Health Education Center

The presenter, Jessica Brehmer, also focused on better care coordination between various provider types by using the state-designated HIE, NC HealthConnex’s, recently launched notification service, NC*Notify. The NC HIEA launched the event notification service in 2019 that proactively pushes admission, discharge and transfer information to alert providers when patients with whom they have a treatment relationship have received care outside of their electronic health record (EHR) or network to help in care coordination and close gaps in care. NC*Notify is a subscription-based service that provides significant insight into patients’ health care activity across North Carolina. This includes activity in health care systems and acute and ambulatory care settings.

North Carolina Health Information Exchange Authority presentation at the Rural Health Symposium

An overview that included technology and resources, use cases within provider practices, and lessons learned was provided. The NC HIEA discussed the obstacles that providers and families in rural areas encounter while managing and accessing healthcare and how to better train and prepare those providers to utilize the HIE in their clinical workflows. Together, NC HIEA and NC AHEC plan to provide ongoing education opportunities to participants of NC HealthConnex through approved funding by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. To learn more about the NC HIEA and NC AHEC partnership, click here

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.

NC HealthConnex and Patient Care: Stories from the Field

Participants and stakeholders often ask how practices are using NC HealthConnex to improve patient care. Read below for use cases from across the state.

We talked with Dr. Velma Taormina of the Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services to learn how their department is using NC HealthConnex. Founded on enhancing the quality of life of Gaston County, Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services focuses on empowering their community to live healthy lives and building a foundation for a safe, healthy, and prosperous community.  

Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services reports that they reference the NC HealthConnex Clinical Portal for their patients to fill in the gaps of patient history and care administered elsewhere. To do this, they search for a patient in the Clinical Portal prior to a patient’s appointment to see if the patient has initiated care at another practice or has visited an emergency room. If they see lab panels, they may not have to repeat them. If they see a recent scan, many times they can use this to more accurately treat the patient depending on the results. 

“Providers love that NC HealthConnex gives them a wealth of information on those patients that move around,” said Dr. Taormina. “It’s important that we can refer to health information records in order to reduce the duplication of testing. The cost savings component of this could be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”

NC HealthConnex has helped organizations such as Gaston County Department of Health and Human Services to maintain the most up-to-date patient information.

The NC HealthConnex Team Welcomes All New Participants! 

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
  • Policies – We recommend that you review the HIEA 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

  • NC HIEA Advisory Board Meeting – The meeting on Friday, March 20, at 2 p.m. has been canceled. 
  • How to Connect Call – Monday, March 30, at 12 p.m. To register, click here
  • NC Chapter of HIMSS Annual Conference – Thursday, April 30 - Friday, May 1. To register, 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.

In Other News

Building from the Ground Up: How WakeMed Has Transformed Community Care in North Carolina - A comprehensive behavioral health network has been formed at WakeMed Health and Hospitals, and some of the results, according to one organizational leader, “far exceed anything else we're seeing in industry.” www.hcinnovationgroup.com

HealtheLink Study Shows Savings of Time, Money - When hospitals and health care providers began sharing health information on patients, the main goal was to cut down on unnecessary or duplicative testing and make sure caregivers had a fuller picture of their patients’ health. www.bizjournals.com/buffalo/ 

Industry Voices – 3 Things to Expect When ONC’s Interoperability Rule is Finalized - As we wait for final rules that will enable consumers to freely access their health data, electronic health record (EHR) giant Epic is saying breaking down the silos where this information lives will create a privacy hazard for patients. www.fiercehealthcare.com

Some Additional Findings from Our State of the Industry Survey: Mixed Progress - Respondents to our State of the Industry Survey are all across the board when it comes to such phenomena as enterprise-wide data warehouses, the use of AI and machine learning, and HIE participation. www.hcinnovationgroup.com

Health Datapalooza Wrapup - HHS officials talked about new data initiatives and their forthcoming interop rules at this week’s Health Datapalooza conference. www.politico.com

Author: 
Emily Hughes