NC HIEA November 2021 Update

'Endless Opportunities' – NC HIEA Advisory Board Chair Looks to Improve NC Health with Comprehensive, Inclusive Data from HIE

The N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA) has an opportunity to build the state-designated HIE into a comprehensive, inclusive database that provides actionable insights for practitioners and the state to improve the health of North Carolinians, says the new chair of the NC HIEA Advisory Board.

Dr. William Way, director of diagnostic imaging at Wake Radiology, spoke about the future of NC HealthConnex as he begins his new role as Advisory Board chair.

"What do we want to do? That's the next step forward," he said. "How can we leverage the information to make us all better, make us all more efficient, and provide the care that we need to more effectively? It's an endless set of opportunities."

As a radiologist, Way saw a need for a service like NC HealthConnex before it launched. The radiologists and IT staff at his practice coordinate to exchange medical images with many hospitals and private offices.

"Patients don't all go to a single location to get their imaging done, and as radiologists, we heavily rely on access to the comprehensive imaging database," he said. "I was interested in trying to find this final source of truth where everyone would report results, and from there, you could find what relevant imaging you might need. My hope all along has been that the HIE could serve as a repository for comprehensive view into each individual patient irrespective of where they had received their health care."

Way, who joined the Advisory Board in 2016, praised outgoing chair Dr. Jeffrey Ferranti's leadership to launch NC HealthConnex and connect numerous providers.

"Dr. Ferranti did a wonderful job for his two terms as board chair and saw a tremendous growth in the HIE, really filling out the full potential of what the HIE was mandated to do," Way said.

Now, NC HIEA has the opportunity to shape future uses of NC HealthConnex, he said. His professional experience shows him the potential of the patient data collected in NC HealthConnex to guide medical practitioners to better use their health care resources.

"I come to this with more of an end user perspective," he said. "The user has to see value, how we can use the information that the HIE has to help us manage individual patients better."

NC HealthConnex data can also be leveraged to "provide guidance to the state on where services are needed … and to help the state use its resources efficiently and effectively," he said.

Way's top priority is to expand data reporting and encourage practitioners to submit data on more, if not all, patients beyond what's required. That demands identifying the remaining provers not connected to NC HealthConnex and understanding their needs. Rural providers, for example, might not have broadband access or face cost-prohibitive conversion to electronic health records. 

"Growing the database to be as inclusive as possible is perhaps the most important next step." Way said. "The greatest value is to expand participation to as many North Carolinians as possible, so you can get data extracts that are actionable."."

A more inclusive, comprehensive database could aid both individual and population health, he said. It could enable earlier detection of hotspots of COVID-19 and other diseases, possibly preventing outbreaks, and help identify underserved patients to give them better care.

To encourage greater data reporting, it should be easy for providers to access and useNC HealthConnex, and it should not duplicate other reporting, particularly quality reporting.

"End users have got to see value," he said. "You can't have a circumstance where the HIE creates more work for the providers. It's got to be seamless and efficient so the data has value."

Way and the Advisory Board will "need to listen carefully" to the NC HIEA staff "to understand where they believe they've got the potential to gain the greatest, where their greatest successes are." The board can then help staff set achievable, but significant goals.

Way looks forward to a fruitful, productive exchange of insights with the Advisory Board and staff.

"That's a bilateral handshake agreement to where we can support the activities they're doing and help guide them when they've got decisions or choices to make between various alternatives about what would be next best steps," Way said. "I hope to work  closely with the staff to understand what must be done, then get a better handle of what can be done, and work together to formulate a team approach to facilitating getting it done."

From Smishing to Ransomware: New Cybersecurity Threats to Organizations

Cybercriminals continue to launch new types of attacks against organizations. Smishing is an increasingly popular form of phishing because it uses messages to mobile phones, which people often trust more than emails.

In smishing attacks, people are prompted to download an application on their mobile device, which enables the attacker to gather personal information. For example, the new Android malware AberetBot sends text messages to download an app that captures users' banking credentials.

Organizations and their leaders, however, can take steps to protect themselves and to educate their employees to help secure organizations. In the November newsletter, the Enterprise Security Risk Management Office (ERSMO) explains:

  • Why cybersecurity awareness training for employees is critical to thwart ransomware attacks
  • Best practices for leaders to protect their organizations from phishing attacks
  • How to apply the NIST Cybersecurity Framework to make your organization more resilient

Read ESRMO's November Cybersecurity newsletter, and find more cybersecurity and risk management resources from the N.C. Department of Information Technology.

NC HealthConnex, as part of NCDIT, is attuned to mitigating these risks with our technical partners. Learn more about our privacy and security policies.

Enhancements to NC HealthConnex's Clinical Portal Released

Updates to the NC HealthConnex clinical portal are now LIVE. All NC HealthConnex participants with active clinical portal accounts will see the changes.

To guide you through using the updated clinical portal, we offer the following resources on NC HealthConnex Training & Resources page:

Teletown Hall: NC HealthConnex Clinical Portal Overview

Reference Guides

The updates to the provider clinical portal include the following:

  • New modern look
  • Improved data display
  • Security enhancements
  • Single sign-on with electronic health records, once by configured by vendors

If you have questions about these features or need assistance, please contact the NC HealthConnex team at or 919-754-6912.

Upcoming Events

  • How to Connect Call — Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, noon to 1 p.m.

    Interested providers may register to join a monthly "How to Connect" call to learn about who we are, as well as the state mandate, steps to connect and value-added features.
  • Quarterly User Audit — Friday, Dec. 31

    NC HealthConnex Participant Account Administrators contacted by email should complete their user audits. See the Quarterly Audit Quick Reference Guide, or for assistance, contact the NC HealthConnex Help Desk Team at or 919-531-2700.
  • NC HIEA Advisory Board Meeting — Thursday, Jan. 13, 2022, 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

    If interested in attending the NC HIEA Advisory Board meeting please email Trista Nance at

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