Thursday, September 13, 2018 - 00:00

NC HealthConnex Builds Emergency Connections to Improve Access to Patient Records During Hurricane Florence

In the event the storm forces patients to seek health care outside of their communities, North Carolina's statewide health information exchange NC HealthConnex has enabled connectivity to neighboring state and regional HIEs to support access to patient records.
RALEIGH
Sep 13, 2018

In the event the storm forces patients to seek health care outside of their communities, North Carolina’s statewide health information exchange – NC HealthConnex – has enabled connectivity to neighbor state and regional health information exchanges to support access to patient records. 

NC HealthConnex opened the gateway for bidirectional query and exchange of patient records via the national eHealth Exchange Network, part of the Sequoia Project, to:

  • Coastal Connect HIE (Wilmington)
  • ETHIN (East Tennessee)
  • GRAChiE (Augusta, Ga.)
  • MedVirginia (Richmond, Va.) 
  • SCHIEX (South Carolina)

Existing connections already in place:

  • GaHIN (Atlanta)
  • VA HIE (Veterans Administration)

Major disasters, such as Hurricane Florence, have an effect on health care information needs – even before they make landfall.

“Hurricane Florence has already resulted in the evacuation of millions who left their local area where health care records are housed,” said Eric Boyette, secretary of the N.C. Department of Information Technology. “Our agency has been working to allow the exchange of health records across state lines to provide additional support to the providers who will be treating them. We're glad to have a part in making sure people get the best care possible.”

Health information exchanges  are networks that allow doctors, nurses, pharmacists, other health care providers and patients to access and securely share a patient's vital medical information electronically such as medications, allergies, procedures, labs, diagnoses, etc. – improving the speed, quality, safety, coordination and cost of patient care

“Health data is critical during natural disasters,” said Yvonne Hughes, CEO of both Coastal Carolinas Health Alliance and Coastal Connect Health Information Exchange. “Our connection with NC HealthConnex helps us provide the best care we can during Hurricane Florence. We’d like to recognize our board, our staff, NC HealthConnex, Medicity and Orion Health for working so hard to make this connection happen.”

“The genesis of health information exchanges was to enable the secure exchange of health care information using technology during emergent situations,” said Christie Burris, executive director of the N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority. “Use cases for widespread adoption of this type of technology during emergencies continue to emerge. We are pleased to able support this infrastructure for the state of North Carolina.”

During Hurricane Irma, GRAChIE established nine emergent connections in 24 hours to facilitate access to clinically relevant information on any Florida resident that might arrive in Georgia for care.  GRAChIE’s experience and guidance helped the NC HealthConnex team to implement emergent connections to five HIEs in 48 hours.