A New and Improved NC HIE Is in the Works

The NC General Assembly passed legislation this year to implement a proper-functioning Health Information Exchange (HIE), a crucial step toward putting data into doctors’ hands, which will help our state’s health care system reach the quality and cost goals that are a priority.

You may recall that thanks to legislative action several years ago, North Carolina does, in fact, have an HIE. But opposition from within the health industry led to low levels of participation. Today, there is a broader understanding of the role an HIE would play in health system transformation and payers are beginning to appreciate that data and the medical expertise necessary to properly interpret it will help conserve health resources while improving quality.

As the power to control patient care decisions increasingly migrates back to doctors as part of the move to value-based systems of care, the HIE offers physicians many benefits, such as:

  1. giving physicians real-time access to their patients’ clinical data from throughout the health care system;
  2.  enabling those being held accountable for the Triple Aim (cost, population health, and experience of care) to better formulate strategies to succeed; and
  3. allowing those who authorize health program funding (e.g., legislators and government agency officials) to see where good value is being obtained and avoid taking actions that will harm patient health.

Under the law passed this year, all Medicaid providers will soon need to be connected to the HIE. Many important issues will need to be revisited as part of any effort to revitalize or reform the NC HIE. The NCMS is working to ensure:

  1. the governance structure for the HIE has appropriate physician representation;
  2. the substantial costs incurred by providers to implement necessary EHR technology in their practices is recognized by everyone as a contribution to achieving the HIE and health system improvement goals; and finally,
  3. the HIE is operated as a public utility, free of proprietary influence from EMR vendors or health care organizations.

The NCMS will continue working to ensure these priorities are reflected in the NC HIE. We’d like to have your input on this issue. Please post a comment on this blog, or contact us directly at [email protected] or 800-722-1350.


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