N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority and N.C. Area Health Education Centers Enter New Phase of Partnership
The N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA) and N.C. Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) are starting a new phase of their partnership to enhance training opportunities for health care providers participating in the state-designated health information exchange, NC HealthConnex. NC HIEA had a chance to catch up with Chris Weathington, director of practice support at NC AHEC, on the value of the first two years of the partnership and future plans.
After their two-year contract ends on Sept. 30, NC AHEC will continue to support NC HealthConnex education, engagement, outreach, and practice-level technical assistance to Medicaid essential practices.
"The partnership has resulted in a highly collaborative experience in which both NC HIEA and NC AHEC work together to address quality, cost, and technology for the health care provider," said Weathington. "NC HIEA and NC AHEC will remain diligent towards future trainings and technical assistance at no cost to the provider."
Training available in the new phase beginning in October includes online modules on the NC HIEA website. NC AHEC practice support coaches will also assist Medicaid- referred practices with integrating NC HealthConnex into their workflow. The coaches will also advise practices on how to use the HIE in their value-based work with Medicaid and other payors, for example, to close care gaps.
Weathington stressed that NC AHEC has learned the value of NC HealthConnex in their work over the past two years.
"We have a better appreciation of how the tool can be the state's best solution towards a 'universal health record' regardless of where the patient has been seen," he said. "We learned all of its features and how to best train practices on the use of the tool and the most efficient method of integrating into their clinical and administrative workflows."
NC AHEC found that NC HealthConnex can help providers manage quality and cost by mitigating the information silos and lack of IT integration in electronic health records, Weathington said. This capability became essential during the COVID-19 pandemic.
NC AHEC also helped find ways to enhance the user experience of NC HealthConnex "by improving technical features and data, reducing administrative burden, and meeting the need for low- or no-cost bi-directional integration," Weathington said.
Weathington said he's proud that during the partnership, NC AHEC drove "adoption of the HIE by practices, provided high-quality training and technical assistance to participants, and shared feedback so that the overall user experience is enhanced."
NC AHEC will keep on promoting the high value of NC HealthConnex to practices.
"NC HIEA is the closest solution towards 'universal health record'. It has continued to evolve to meet the needs of the provider and patient," Weathington said. "We've developed a one-to-one relationship between NC HIEA and NC AHEC staff and can continue that relationship in our future work via NC Medicaid."
NC HIEA Seeking Focus Group Participants to Inform Legislative Recommendations
The N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA) is seeking participants for two focus groups in October. We want to hear from health care providers, practice managers, and others in the payer and health care quality communities about the challenges and barriers connecting to the statewide HIE, NC HealthConnex.
The feedback will be included in NC HIEA’s March 2022 report to the N.C. General Assembly and will inform its recommendations related to the Health Information Exchange Act, per North Carolina Session Law 2021-26.
These groups will meet virtually via Webex due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
NC HealthConnex’s Event Notification Service NC*NOTIFY to Release Version 4.5 Enhancements
Health care providers are often unaware when their patients receive care outside their facility or electronic health records (EHR) network. Providers also have a growing need for timely notifications of certain events to support successful transitions of care and improve care management.
NC HealthConnex is pleased to announce additional enhancements slated for the next version of NC*Notify (4.5) that will bring greater value to the overall user experience. The updates being released in the next few weeks include:
- New event triggers
- Reports on patient panel loading
- EHR system integration
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Conditions of Participation fields
Some NC*Notify subscribers may need to make changes to accept new fields. Subscribers will also be able to directly integrate NC*Notify into certain EHR systems.
Updated specification documents will be provided over the next few weeks. If you have specific questions about these upcoming changes and how to prepare for them, contact HIESupport@sas.com.
Athena Single Sign-on to NC HealthConnex Coming Soon
The N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA) and Athena are working to develop single sign-on access to the NC HealthConnex clinical portal. This allows Athena customers to access the NC HealthConnex clinical portal without logging into another system or leaving their electronic health record workflow.
Utilizing the NC HealthConnex clinical portal has many benefits:
- A 360-degree view of a patient’s clinical record
- Accessible anywhere an internet connection exists
- Access to patient information via the eHealth Exchange, including:
- Atrium Health CareConnect HIE (Charlotte, NC)
- Carolina Health Network
- Coastal Connect HIE (Wilmington, NC)
- eTHIN (East Tennessee)
- GaHIN (Georgia’s state designated HIE)
- MedVirginia (Richmond, VA)
- OCHIN (Portland, OR)
- PULSE (Patient Unified Lookup System for Emergencies) for Ai
- SCHIEx (South Carolina)
- VA HIE (Veterans Health Administration) and DMIX (U.S. Department of Defense) Joint HIE
- Vidant Health (Greenville, NC)
HIE Act Changes Extend Deadline; Providers Encouraged to Continue Onboarding Due to Large Onboarding Queue
The N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA) previously announced the Health Information Exchange Act deadline extension until January 2023 after a collaborative effort to bring additional relief to health care providers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. NC HIEA advocated on behalf of providers to allow them additional time to complete the technical onboarding process without being out of compliance with the HIE Act.
Why You Should Connect Now
- As North Carolina moves to managed care, all Medicaid providers will benefit from NC HealthConnex's more complete, aggregated health information on Medicaid patients across the care continuum. It will help providers focus on managing patient health rather than the fee-for-service model. In addition to allowing providers direct access to patients' health information via NC HealthConnex, Medicaid has begun to look at quality measures on their beneficiaries from HIE data to improve the program.
- More than 5,000 facilities are currently involved in the onboarding process. There are no guarantees of additional extensions; in fact, the N.C. General Assembly is requiring compliance reports from the NC HIEA by March 1, 2022.
In March 2022, NC HIEA will report on efforts, progress, and mandated Medicaid and State Health Plan providers not yet connected to the state legislature, as required by state law. All connection statuses and levels of engagement will be evaluated and reported to the General Assembly's Health and Human Services Joint Legislative Oversight Committee.
For questions about resources or connecting to NC HealthConnex, contact the NC HIEA team at email@example.com or 919-754-6912.
- How to Connect Call
Monday, Oct. 25, 2021, at 12 p.m. Register for this call.
- TeleTown Hall
Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, at 12 p.m.
NCDIT Cybersecurity Newsletter
Health care providers should be aware of potential cybersecurity risks and understand the importance of data privacy. The Enterprise Security and Risk Management Office (ESRMO), with the N.C. Department of Information Technology, is pleased to provide the September edition of the ESRMO monthly newsletter. This month’s newsletter covers:
- September Is National Preparedness Month
- Hurricane-Related Scams
NC HealthConnex, as part of NCDIT, is attuned to mitigating these risks with our technical partners. Learn more about our privacy and security policies.
In the News
Data Management Improves Care Quality, Reduces Health Disparities — Health Center Partners looks to improve its care quality and eliminate health disparities through effective data management. healthitanalytics.com
The Potency of Collaborative Networks in a Post-Pandemic United States — Cooperation between regional health improvement collaboratives and health information exchanges has enormous potential to improve the health of their communities. hcinnovationgroup.com
Pew Recommends Steps to Improve Health IT Data-Sharing and Safety, Support Public Health — The Pew Charitable Trusts sent a letter to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services on Sept. 13 proposing updates to the agency’s approach to paying health care providers who treat Medicare patients. Pew urged the agency to take steps to ensure that more data is shared with public health agencies and to improve the safety of health information technology systems and how they share data. pewtrusts.org
ONC Data Brief: Public Health Reporting Challenges — A data brief from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology reports that U.S. hospitals have been struggling to exchange information with public health agencies, even before the pandemic. hcinnovationgroup.com
DirectTrust Creating Group on Information Exchange for Human Services — DirectTrust is seeking participants to create a consensus body that will propose new national standards for secure, interoperable health care communication between health care and human services providers addressing social determinants of health. hcinnovationgroup.com