Despite inconsistencies in federal and state funding, many electronic health information exchanges — or HIEs — are doing quite well. Some of them, with an HIE mandate from their governing body, are actually expanding their services and capabilities.
One example of the thriving electronic exchange of patients’ information is the North Carolina HIE that offers healthcare providers — including behavioral health professionals — a secure method of sharing vital patient data in an effort to improve the quality, efficiency, safety and cost-effectiveness of patient care in the state.
What is the health information exchange that operates out of Raleigh? It’s important to understand this from both a practitioner’s and data manager’s point of view, as well as how it impacts healthcare organizations and professionals working in the ninth most populated U.S. state.
What Is the Health Information Exchange in North Carolina?
In 2009, the governor’s office oversaw the creation of the federal Health Information Technology for Electronic and Clinical Health Act — or HITECH. However, in 2015, a state law was passed — NCGS 90-414.7 — that created the North Carolina Health Information Exchange Authority — or NC HIEA — that’s tasked with administering and overseeing the state’s HIE.
Now in its third iteration and under state control, NC HealthConnex is the official title of the statewide HIE. The NC HIEA runs the exchange through the state’s Department of Information Technology’s Government Data Analytics Center — or GDAC.
The NC HIEA’s stated purpose is to link disparate healthcare networks and systems to provide a holistic, secure and standardized method of sharing important patient information. It better supports the analysis and exchange of patient data, as well as access to it.
Overview and Highlights of North Carolina’s HIE
To comprehend what a widespread impact North Carolina’s HIE is having, it’s helpful to consider the following milestones that highlight the program’s progress:
- During 2015, more than 85 percent of hospitals, health systems and county health departments joined the exchange. Additionally, 100 percent of North Carolina’s federally qualified health centers — or FQHCs — signed up.
- By the end of 2017, more than 600,000 continuity of care documents — or CCDs — were shared via the exchange. Also, according to statistics from the NC HIEA, nearly 4 million patient records — or about 36 percent of the state’s population — were included in the exchange.
- Throughout 2018 and 2019, North Carolina’s legislative mandate calls for 98 percent of the state’s healthcare providers — including behavioral health and addiction treatment professionals — to join the HIE.
How ICANotes Can Help Clinicians Dealing With the New Mandate
The key takeaway from North Carolina’s HIE is that behavioral health professionals — from psychologists and psychiatric nurse practitioners to addiction counselors and clinical social workers — will be under greater scrutiny to keep all their documentation organized, updated and ready for electronic exchange.
This is when ICANotes — the premier EHR for all behavioral health specialties — can help you keep up with all the clinical documentation your practice requires —in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Quickly implemented, with an intuitive workflow and clinical content templates, there’s never been a better way of controlling your paperwork. The best part is that ICANotes has incredible technical support while always keeping you up-to-date on all applicable healthcare standards.
ICANotes is sponsoring a webinar on Wednesday, February 20, 2019, at 12 p.m. to answer all your questions regarding HIE.
Clinical Director October has been a Registered Nurse for over 15 years. She is board certified in Mental Health and Psychiatric Nursing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She also graduated with bachelor and master degrees in Nursing from Western Governors University.