NC HIEA Update January 2024

NC HealthConnex Earns Validated Data Stream Designation; NC HIEA Executive Director Becomes State’s Chief Data Officer, First Pharmacies to Connect to NC HealthConnex are Now Live

Author: Jessica Hagins

NC HealthConnex Earns Validated Data Stream Designation in NCQA Data Aggregator Validation Program

A round, teal seal with the words Validated NCQA Data Aggregator Validation

The N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority, which manages the state-designated health information exchange, NC HealthConnex, has earned the Validated Data Stream designation for certain data streams through the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) Data Aggregator Validation program.

This validation means that payers such as NC Medicaid can look to NC HealthConnex as a single, trusted source of data, and health care providers who are participants of the NC HIEA do not have to go through a time-consuming validation process for quality reporting measures every time a payer wants to use their data.

“The shared vision between NC Medicaid and the NC HIEA to leverage NC HealthConnex for quality measure reporting is one step closer to becoming a reality,” said Christie Burris, executive director of the NC HIEA. “Through efforts like these, we will save state dollars and relieve provider administrative burden while continually working to adhere to the NCQA’s high standards of data quality.”

NCQA is a private, nonprofit organization that accredits and certifies a wide range of health care organizations. The NCQA Data Aggregator Validation program provides confirmation that the data in NC HealthConnex is aligned with the data in the participating health system's electronic health record.

Two health systems, Duke Health and UNC Health, partnered with the NC HIEA to achieve this validation. Data streams that earn validation undergo a rigorous, end-to-end look at the quality and integrity of data and the procedures used to manage and safeguard it.

Shannon Dowler, chief medical officer for NC Medicaid, also celebrated this milestone. “As payers look for ways to reduce administrative burden while simultaneously capturing the quality of care being delivered on the ground, capitalizing on embedded data from electronic health records is a critical step in reducing the epidemic of burnout facing health care providers while driving for the best possible health of the population.”

A key component of NC Medicaid’s Quality Strategy is measuring and incentivizing health care providers to improve their performance. This validation contributes greatly towards making the data flowing through to health care providers and public health analysts even more useful in its ability to improve quality of care and health outcomes for North Carolina residents.


Leadership Changes for the N.C. Department of Information Technology’s Data Division: NC HIEA Executive Director Becomes State’s Chief Data Officer

Headshot of employee Christie Burris
Christie Burris, Chief Data Officer and Director, N.C. Government Data Analytics Center

The N.C. Department of Information Technology has named Christie Burris as the new chief data officer for the state of North Carolina and director of the N.C. Government Data Analytics Center.

“Christie is an innovative and skilled strategic communications and policy executive with proven experience delivering complex programs in the public and private sectors,” said NCDIT Secretary and State Chief Information Officer Jim Weaver. “In her new role, she will continue to apply her knowledge of data governance, data sharing and data analytics to serve NCDIT and the state.”

Burris has been a leader within NCDIT’s Data Division for more than seven years. In her recent role as executive director of the N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority, she oversaw the ongoing strategy to develop the state-designated health information exchange, NC HealthConnex, into a mature and modernized system and supported health care providers in fulfilling the state mandate for data connections.

Under Burris’ leadership, NC HealthConnex has achieved a fivefold increase in its participant base and strengthened partnerships with other state agencies and the private sector for the exchange of health care data. Burris has also overseen two technology platform upgrades, a comprehensive security assessment and the development of population health and analytic services to support the health care community.

“It has been a pleasure to serve as the executive director of the NC HIEA, guiding the development of NC HealthConnex,” said Burris. “During this time, I have been privileged to see tremendous growth in our efforts to support whole person care. I look forward to supporting and expanding GDAC’s vision of using data to inform policy and decision making to improve the management of state resources and the lives of North Carolina residents.”

The NCDIT Data Division encompasses GDAC, the NC HIEA, the N.C. Center for Geographic Information and Analysis and the N.C. Longitudinal Data Service.

Burris replaces Carol Burroughs, who retired in December 2023. She will continue to be closely involved in the strategic vision for NC HealthConnex as a member of the NC HIEA Advisory Board.


First Pharmacies to Connect to NC HealthConnex are Now Live – Where to Find Pharmacy Data

The NC HIEA’s pharmacy pilot program has now been completed and we have begun connecting the first pharmacies to NC HealthConnex. Full participants of the NC HIEA will see data from connected pharmacies in the patient summary section of the NC HealthConnex Clinical Portal.

We have updated the Clinical Portal User Guide to help you find dispense data, which you can find on page 43.

Too often, pharmacists lack access to patient information such as labs and allergies. Pharmacists can also benefit from knowing their patients’ functional and cognitive skills and medicines, so they do not get prescribed contraindicated medications.

With NC HealthConnex, providers can access patients’ comprehensive records across facilities, review labs, diagnostics and allergies, and access medication history to reduce medication errors and confirm with lab results that medications are working.

Having access to this system can reduce redundant lab tests, improve diagnoses and treatment, and improve coordination across all levels of care for patients in North Carolina.

Pharmacies who would like to be connected to NC HealthConnex can start by filling out a participation agreement. Once you have a signed agreement, you will need be invited to the intake process to begin your connection to NC HealthConnex. We are ready to begin inviting select pharmacies to the intake process in 2024.

If you are a pharmacist or pharmacy manager who wants to learn more about connecting to NC HealthConnex, please visit this page for pharmacy resources. If you have any questions about this update to NC HealthConnex, please contact us at


Employee Spotlight

Adonnica Rowland
Business Development Specialist

We welcome Adonnica Rowland to the NC HIEA as our newest Business Development Specialist. Adonnica has worked in both private and public sectors in health IT and health informatics since 2012. Her private sector experience has given her expertise to assist in statewide programs and projects. She previously served the state through roles at NCDHHS, the Office of NC Fast, UNC General Administration and UNC Chapel Hill. Adonnica joined the NC HIEA outreach team in December 2023.


Connex Kudos

"NC HealthConnex is super vital because we're able to see some of the treatment history that gets missed or lost when a family is in crisis... We always really want to know where they've been and the kinds of medications they have tried when we're working towards stabilization.” – Behavioral Health Agency