DHHS and NC HealthConnex Partner to Leverage HIE for COVID-19 Vaccine Reporting
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NC DHHS), the North Carolina Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA), and the NC HIEA’s technology partner, SAS, have partnered to report COVID-19 vaccine administrations from across the state.
NC DHHS manages the COVID-19 Vaccine Management System (CVMS), a cloud-based vaccine management solution for COVID-19 that enables vaccine management and data sharing across the care continuum. This system will allow for vaccine providers in North Carolina to submit cases or inquiries regarding COVID-19 vaccines.
The state-designated health information exchange, NC HealthConnex, will offer connectivity to CVMS and patient matching across sources to enhance vaccine data by utilizing the NC HealthConnex master patient index. NC HealthConnex will be receiving COVID-19 vaccine administration data from points of care such as CVS, Walgreens, hospitals and health systems, and electronic health records (EHRs). To reduce double data entry, NC HealthConnex will help with integrating health systems’ EHRs with the CVMS database. This data exchange through NC HealthConnex will reduce the need for manual entry of vaccine administration data directly into CVMS.
NC HealthConnex is a secure electronic network that gives authorized health care providers the ability to access and share patient information across a statewide information network. NC HealthConnex is actively working with hospitals and health systems to ensure access to CVMS with plans to onboard additional health care organizations who administer vaccines soon. For more information, contact the NC HealthConnex Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NC*Notify: New Features and Capabilities
NC HealthConnex is pleased to announce that new notification features and updates for NC*Notify will be available to participants beginning in February. Current subscribers across the state will have access to various new alerts including a COVID-19 lab result alert that will allow health care providers to react to positive cases in a more timely manner.
NC*Notify is a subscription-based service that notifies providers as their patients receive services across the care continuum. Based on admission, discharge, and transfer data received from more than 100 participating hospitals plus encounter data from more than 6,000 ambulatory care settings, the NC*Notify real-time event notifications provide care teams with valuable information that spans geography and care settings and supports state and federal efforts to focus on patient-centered care.
Health Information Exchanges: A Health Care Necessity
Throughout the pandemic, health information exchanges (HIEs) have become progressively fundamental to health care providers in sharing health records, including COVID-19 data.
NC HealthConnex has proven to be a vital tool to providers across North Carolina as COVID-19 test results can now populate in a patient’s health record. In a time of crisis, the state-designated health information exchange provides participants with valuable information about their patients and a more complete health record to improve coordination across the care continuum.
"If you're waiting for the burning platform, people need information critically right now to deliver care in COVID-19," says Lisa Bari, SHIEC interim CEO. "In some cases, we see we're still dealing with paper bridges or digital silos as well, but at the very minimum, the importance of sharing health information has jumped to the front of the line."
Read more about how health information exchanges have helped providers respond to and treat COVID-19 in patients.
For NC HealthConnex Participants: Update Regarding Information Blocking Regulations and Timeline of Key Compliance Dates
The NC HIEA exists to improve the quality of health care delivery in our state by facilitating the secure, timely exchange of demographic and clinical patient data.
Because of its commitment to interoperability and information sharing, the NC HIEA has been studying and monitoring the 21st Century Cures Act information blocking regulations promulgated earlier this year by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC). As you may know, ONC announced recently an interim final rule extending compliance dates and timeframes due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The applicability date for ONC’s information blocking rules is now April 5, 2021.
Below is a timeline of key compliance dates for the new rules outlined by Becker’s Healthcare:
- April 5, 2021: Assurances condition of certification; health IT developers are prohibited from interfering with a user's ability to access or use certified capabilities for any purpose within the tech's certification.
- April 5, 2021: Communications condition of certification; developers cannot prevent or restrict communications about certain performance aspects of health IT and related business practices. Developers can impose certain types of limited restrictions that create a balance between the need to promote open communication about health IT with the need to protect business interests of developers and others.
- April 5, 2021: Communications maintenance of certification; developers must amend their contracts/agreements that contravene the requirements of the communications condition of certification put in place June 30, 2020.
- April 5, 2021: Application programming interfaces condition and maintenance of certification; API developers with certified tech must be in compliance with the API condition of certification requirements.
- April 5, 2021: Information blocking condition of certification; developers are prohibited from information blocking.
- Dec. 15, 2021: Real world testing condition and maintenance of certification; developers must successfully test the real-world use of their interoperability tech in their appropriate market cases. Testing plans must be made publicly available through the Certified Health IT Products List.
- Jan. 1, 2022: Medicaid's Promoting Interoperability Program sunsets, which leaves certain support measures maintained by the program no longer included as part of the ONC Health IT Certification Program.
- April 1-30, 2022: Attestations maintenance of certification; the first of two yearly attestations begins April 1 and will be accepted by ONC through April 30. Health IT developers must send their attestations in to show they have met certification requirements.
- Dec. 31, 2022: Standardized APIs for patient and population services; developers must provide standardized access to single patient and multiple patient services via an API using the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources Release 4.0.1 standard and several additional standards and implementation specifications.
- Dec. 31, 2022: Privacy and security transparency attestations; developers must attest "yes" or "no" to the new encrypt authentication credentials and multi-factor authentication certification criteria.
- Dec. 31, 2022: Developers who are currently certified to the 2015 edition version of the certification criteria must have the following sections updated: clinical document architecture companion guide, electronic prescribing, support security tags, care plan attestation, privacy and security criteria and application access data category requests.
- March 15, 2023: Real world testing condition and maintenance of certification; developers must make their testing results from calendar year 2021 publicly available.
- Dec. 31, 2023: Electronic health information export; developers of certified health IT modules must electronically export all the EHI that can be stored at the time of its product certification.
In the coming months, the NC HIEA will continue its initial compliance efforts. To date, we have been evaluating ONC’s rules and reviewing policies and practices to ensure that the NC HIEA is not engaged in prohibited information blocking practices. As needed, the NC HIEA will consult its Advisory Board regarding potential updates to its policies, and it will provide NC HIEA stakeholders and the public with advance notice of any new and/or revised policies before they take effect. We also look forward to ONC providing additional resources concerning interpretation of the rules and their enforcement.
Importantly, NC HealthConnex will continue to facilitate - and not inhibit - participants’ exchange of EHI in compliance with the information blocking prohibitions. The NC HIEA remains steadfast in its commitment to refrain from engaging in any practice that we know or should know is likely to interfere with, prevent, or materially discourage access, exchange, or use of electronic health information via NC HealthConnex unless we have a good-faith basis to believe an exception applies.
We encourage your organization to review the information blocking rules and determine how best to comply with them, to the extent the rules apply to your organization. If you have technical questions about NC HealthConnex or its data-sharing capabilities, please contact the NC HIEA Provider Relations team at email@example.com or (919) 754-6912.
NC HIEA and AHEC Virtual Training Opportunities
The NC HIEA and North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) are offering a library of virtual training modules for health care providers on various NC HealthConnex services.
To get started, providers can register for a series of seven video trainings, each providing an orientation to the features and services available. The newest module, Module 7: NC*Notify, offers an overview of how NC*Notify works, how the practice will learn what is required to enroll and receive alerts, and hear use cases of how other practices are implementing NC*Notify into their daily workflow.
Registration for the following modules is required to receive a link to the training.
- Module 1: NC HealthConnex Overview
- Module 2: Unpacking the Welcome Packet
- Module 3: PAA (Participant Account Administrator) Role and Responsibilities
- Module 4: Clinical Portal Overview
- Module 5: Direct Secure Messaging Within the NC HealthConnex Clinical Portal
- Module 6: Patient Education
- Module 7: NC*Notify
These virtual offerings provide health care professionals with an introduction to NC HealthConnex or help brush up on NC HealthConnex knowledge. In the midst of a pandemic, these modules offer a stress-free method of receiving training and staying up-to-date on all applications within NC HealthConnex.
For more detailed instructions on how to use the training software, visit our Training and Resources webpage.
DHHS Hardship Extension Process
Session Law 2019-23 modified the Statewide HIE Act and gave NC DHHS the authority to grant a temporary Hardship Extension to classes of providers for whom acquiring and implementing an EHR system and connecting to the HIE Network would constitute an undue hardship.
- A Hardship Extension extends the participant’s deadline to December 31, 2022.
- All providers that receive a hardship extension must be live and sending data by January 1, 2023.
For more information about the DHHS Hardship Extension process, click here.
Please note: The NC HIEA does not grant hardship extensions. All questions and/or requests about the hardship extension should be sent to the DHB Ombudsman at Medicaid.ProviderOmbudsman@dhhs.nc.gov.
- NC HealthConnex How to Connect Webinar for Dental Providers
Wednesday, January 27, 2021, at 12 p.m. To register for the webinar, click here.
- NC HIEA Advisory Board Meeting
Monday, February 15, 2021, at 2 p.m. To attend this meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- NC HealthConnex Teletown Hall
Wednesday, February 24, 2021, at 12 p.m. To register for the Teletown Hall, click here.
- NC HIEA Advisory Board Meeting
Wednesday, March 3, 2021, at 2:30 p.m. To attend this meeting, email email@example.com.
- NC HIEA Advisory Board Meeting
Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at 2:30 p.m. To attend this meeting, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Partner News & Events
AHEC Medicaid Managed Care Webinar Series for Providers
Medicaid Managed Care Fireside Chat Webinar Series
Every first Thursday of the month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Click here to register for Medicaid Managed Care topics.
Hosted by Shannon Dowler, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, N.C. Division of Health Benefits
Moderated by Hugh Tilson, Director, NC AHEC Program
- Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021 | Value Based Payment/Advanced Payment Models and Quality
Clinical Quality Webinar Series
Every third Thursday of the month from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Click here to register for Clinical Quality Topics.
Hosted by Shannon Dowler, M.D., Chief Medical Officer, N.C. Division of Health Benefits, and Tom Wroth, M.D., CEO, Community Care of North Carolina
Moderated by Hugh Tilson, Director of the NC AHEC Program
- Thursday, Feb. 18 | TBD
In the News
- FBI, HHS Alert to COVID-19 Vaccine Fraud Schemes Aimed at Data Theft - All private sector organizations should be on the alert for fraud schemes tied to the COVID-19 vaccine, as multiple complaints have been received by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the FBI. www.healthitsecurity.com
- VA Taps Interoperability Platform for COVID-19 Vaccine Deployment - The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) will utilize its interoperability platform to identify positive COVID-19 patients and later deploy the COVID-19 vaccine to those in need from the VA. www.ehrintelligence.com
- Making seniors comfortable with telehealth will be a goal for healthcare in 2021 - Telehealth has played a critical role in healthcare delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic, and this is especially true for older Americans. www.healthcarefinancenews.com
- OCR Guide on HIPAA-Compliant PHI Disclosures Via HIEs, Amid COVID-19 - Recent OCR guidance sheds light on HIPAA-permitted disclosures of protected health information via HIEs for public health activities amid COVID-19. www.healthitsecurity.com