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NC Health Information Exchange Upgrades Infrastructure, Usability

A North Carolina health information exchange has partnered with two technology companies to improve health IT usability for users.

North Carolina's health information exchange is upgrading its infrastructure.

Source: Thinkstock

By Kate Monica

- North Carolina’s health information exchange (HIE) is working to upgrade its infrastructure by partnering with InterSystems and analytics company SAS to improve health IT usability and efficiency for users.

NC HealthConnex is supported by the North Carolina Department of Information Technology and functions as the state’s designated HIE. The HIE helps to improve care quality and patient safety by streamlining transitions of care and enabling health data access and exchange between providers across the state.

“HIEs across the country are important partners and facilitators for data sharing to support whole-person care,” said NC HealthConnex Executive Director Christie Burris. “Like our counterparts across the country, we believe that patients deserve to have their health records available where and when they need them.”

“In North Carolina today, health care providers are using more than 150 disparate EHR systems,” she continued. “NC HealthConnex bridges the gap between them to promote access to and exchange of health information at the point of care for more appropriate treatment decisions and effective care management. This is especially important for the state's most vulnerable or chronically ill patients.”

NC HealthConnex offers authorized providers access to patients’ comprehensive medical histories, including treatment summaries, medication lists, lab results, and diagnoses.

The North Carolina Department of Information Technology is working with SAS to boost the usability and effectiveness of the HIE by improving data sharing capabilities.

“NC HealthConnex has made great strides in participation, information sharing and access,” said Burris. “Our commitment to improving outcomes extends beyond the day-to-day administration of care, and even beyond our borders.”

The HIE now leverages InterSystems’ HIE platform and SAS Health analytics to enable interoperability between HIE participants across care settings. By integrating SAS analytics capabilities into its InterSystems platform, NC HealthConnex is working to enable providers to identify medical causes to patient’s conditions while pursuing ways to achieve system-wide improvements in health data exchange, access, and use.

“Health care providers often just exchange data without deep analysis, missing the opportunity to improve patient matching and learn more about the health of our communities,” said SAS US Government and Education Practice Vice President Grant Brooks.

“NC HealthConnex enables health providers to gain a more complete view of a patient and build care strategies centered around their needs,” Brooks continued.

The HIE also offers providers access to notification services that alert providers when a patient is experiencing a change in health status. The NC*Notify system indicates health status changes in patients across the care continuum.

“North Carolina is a pioneer in using cutting-edge information technology to advance emerging care initiatives,” said InterSystems HealthShare Vice President Don Woodlock.

“Through InterSystems' partnership with NC HealthConnex, the state has made significant strides in connectivity, as well as value-based care and managed care efforts, all by making the HIE the central source of clinical data to better manage needs of the patient population,” Woodlock added.

HIEs across the country are taking steps to enhance their capabilities and further streamline care coordination across locations and care settings.

Earlier this month, New York HIEs HealthlinkNY and HealtheConnections announced a decision to merge.

The new health improvement organization will cover 26 counties, 8,700 providers, and 2,800 locations across Central New York, Southern Tier, and Hudson Valley.

The HIEs will operate under the name HealtheConnections.

HealthlinkNY was engaged in a conflict with Hixny in recent months over Hixny’s efforts to widen the scope of its coverage. Hixny planned to extend its services into nine additional counties in regions already covered by HealthlinkNY.

HealthlinkNY insisted this attempt to expand was unnecessary, and asserted the regions were adequately covered by HealthlinkNY’s health data exchange services.

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