North Carolina Health Information Exchange gets modern makeover with SAS Analytics and InterSystems

Secure patient data sharing supports better care decisions, population health analysis and lower health care costs

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), like 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 make more timely, informed care decisions. Studies show that use of an HIE in an emergency department reduces the odds of hospital admission,[1] and access to an HIE reduces hospital readmissions[2] and repeat diagnostics like imaging.[3]

“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 two 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 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.”

NC HealthConnex led a bold interstate data sharing project in advance of Hurricane Florence. As the storm barreled 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 health care providers. NC HealthConnex now combines InterSystems’ leading 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.

“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 Grant Brooks, Vice President of SAS’ US Government and Education Practice.”NC HealthConnex enables health providers to gain a more complete view of a patient and build care strategies centered around their needs.”

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.

InterSytems HealthShare is used by some of the most successful state and regional HIEs to improve data sharing among health providers, including the largest in the nation, Healthix, which serves New York City and Long Island, and Manifest MedEx, the largest nonprofit health data network in California.

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

Attendees of HIMSS, the industry's largest health information and technology conference, can learn more  by visiting the SAS Booth 4769 or InterSystems Booth 1559, February 11-15 in Orlando, FL. 

About the NC Department of Information Technology

The North Carolina Department of Information Technology promotes a stronger North Carolina through broadband, public safety, healthcare, cybersecurity and customer service. For more information about the North Carolina Department of Information Technology, visit https://it.nc.gov/.

About InterSystems and InterSystems HealthShare®

InterSystems is the information engine that powers some of the world’s most important applications. In healthcare, finance, government, and other sectors where lives and livelihoods are at stake, InterSystems has been a strategic technology provider since 1978. InterSystems is a privately held company headquartered in Cambridge, Massachusetts (USA), with offices worldwide, and its software products are used daily by millions of people in more than 80 countries. For more information, please visit http://www.intersystems.com/.

InterSystems HealthShare is a suite of connected health solutions that unites providers, patients, and payers with a unified health record and analytics that span the care continuum. HealthShare integrates data from a variety of health information systems and pulls it into one place to give care teams a complete view of the patient.

[1] Vest JR, Kern LM, Campion TR Jr, Silver MD, Kaushal R. Association between use of a health information exchange system and hospital admissions. Appl Clin Inf 2014; 5: 219–231. Available: http://dx.doi.org/10.4338/ACI-2013-10-RA-0083

[2] Vest JR, Kern LM, Silver MD, et al. The potential for community-based health information exchange systems to reduce hospitalReadmissions. J Am Med Inform (published online first). Available: https://academic.oup.com/jamia/article/22/2/435/694158

[3] Vest JR, Kaushal R, Silver MD, Hentel K, Kern LM. Health Information Exchange and the Frequency of Repeat Medical Imaging. Am J Manag Care. 2014;(11 Spec No. 17):eSP16-eSP24. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25811815

About SAS

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