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NC Health Information Exchange gets makeover with SAS Analytics and InterSystems

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The State of North Carolina has partnered with SAS and InterSystems to modernize the North Carolina Department of Information Technology’s NC HealthConnex, the state’s designated health information exchange. NC HealthConnex supports improved care quality and patient safety, facilitates better care transitions, and reduces overall health care costs by making pertinent medical data available to more than 4,500 health care facilities across the state.

A health information exchange (HIE), such as NC HealthConnex, is a secure electronic network that gives authorized providers near real-time electronic access to patients’ comprehensive medical histories—treatment summaries, medication lists, lab results, diagnoses and more. Access to such information helps a patient’s disparate care teams to make more timely and better informed care decisions.

“HIEs across the country are important partners and facilitators for data sharing to support whole-person care,” said Christie Burris, executive director, NC HealthConnex. “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 electronic health record (EHR) systems. 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.”

Working with SAS, the North Carolina Department of Information Technology (NC DIT) has enhanced the usability and effectiveness of NC HealthConnex by improving provider participation and information sharing capabilities. NC HealthConnex has seen tremendous growth in the past 2 years, multiplying its connected participant base by a factor of five, with participating health care organizations including hospitals, physician practices, long-term care facilities, local health departments, behavioral health providers, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), radiology centers, and others. The result is a more holistic view of a patient’s health and care that reveals patterns far beyond an individual provider’s records within their own EHR or network.

NC HealthConnex led an interstate data sharing project in advance of Hurricane Florence. As the storm advanced toward the East Coast, NC DIT, SAS, and teams from South Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee, and Georgia urgently connected the states’ HIEs via the Sequoia Project’s eHealth Exchange network. As a result, patients displaced by the deadly storm, including those injured in neighboring states, could be treated by providers with access to their full health records. Those connections remain in place, fostering better care across much of the Southeast.

The next stage of NC HealthConnex modernization

NC HealthConnex is one of the country’s fastest-scaling HIEs, thanks in part to a new collaboration creating a more modernized, seamless experience for healthcare providers. NC HealthConnex now combines InterSystems’ health information exchange platform, HealthShare, with SAS health analytics. The integration was achieved with the help of implementation partner J2 Interactive.

Through the collaboration, NC HealthConnex fosters interoperability between care settings, providing practical patient information at the point of care and enabling the state to better understand care and outcomes in diverse communities. Integrating SAS analytics technologies will give providers insight into the drivers behind particular conditions, while policy and program stakeholders can explore more prescriptive paths to system-wide improvements.

NC HealthConnex’s notification services can also alert providers when a patient experiences a change in health status. The service, called NC*Notify, notifies providers as their patients receive care across the care continuum, including acute and ambulatory care settings.

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