The N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA) was awarded the 2019 Strategic Health Information Exchange Collaborative (SHIEC) Community Partnership Achievement Award on Tuesday, Aug. 20, at the fifth Annual SHIEC Conference in National Harbor, Md.
The Community Partnership Achievement Award recognizes outstanding achievement by a health information exchange in responding to a community crisis, meeting a community need or facilitating community action or collaboration, including Social Determinants of Health.
The NC HIEA was selected for its work to connect to five neighboring state and regional HIEs in the week that led up to Hurricane Florence in 2018.
Hurricane Florence resulted in the evacuation of millions who left their local area where health care records were housed. The N.C. Department of Information Technology’s secretary, Eric Boyette, whose agency is responsible for the state-designated HIE, explained the agency rapidly worked to allow the exchange of health records across state lines to provide additional support to providers who were treating individuals escaping affected areas.
The effort to create these connections was enormous, so establishing a connection that would normally take weeks or months in less than three days is unheard of in the health care industry, according to SHIEC. NC HealthConnex opened the gateway for bidirectional query and exchange of patient records via the national eHealth Exchange Network, with multiple state and regional HIEs including Coastal Connect HIE (Wilmington), ETHIN (East Tennessee), GRAChiE (Augusta, Ga.), MedVirginia, (Richmond, Va.), SCHIEX (South Carolina). There were existing connections already in place for GaHIN (Georgia’s state-designated HIE) and the VA HIE (Veterans Administration).
“The genesis of HIEs is to enable the secure exchange of healthcare information using technology during emergent situations,” said Christie Burris, executive director of the NC Health Information Exchange Authority. “Use cases for widespread adoption of this type of technology during emergencies continue to emerge.”
Photo caption: From left, Dan Porreca, executive director HealtheLink, N.Y. and SHIEC president; Leigh Sterling, CEO, EHTIN, Tenn.; Tara Cramer, executive director, GRACHhie, Ga.,; Christie Burris, executive director, NC HIEA/NC HealthConnex, N.C.; Yvonne Hughes, CEO, Coastal Connect, N.C.; Kelly Thompson, CEO, SHIEC