Unaffiliated N.C. physicians join local HIE

By Diana Manos
09:43 AM

Coastal Connect Health Information Exchange (CCHIE) announced Wednesday the successful connection of 10 unaffiliated physician practices to its health information exchange.

According to CCHIE, it took “only three days” to connect the 10 practices, and in the initial phase they will be able to electronically transmit patient referrals. The next phase will include delivery of clinical results and reports to these practices from five local hospitals.

CCHIE officials said “the full, aggressive rollout” of this solution will begin in October with the goal for year one to connect 144 physician practices to the HIE. The project will be funded in part by a $1.46 million grant from the Duke Endowment.

[See also: N.C. physician organization boosts patient-provider communications.]

CCHIE said physicians typically refer a patient to a specialist or other care provider through a time-consuming, manual process of completing a paper referral form, faxing it and then trading calls with the other physician's office to ensure receipt.

Equally inefficient is the manual process of obtaining results of the care provided to the patient at the referral appointment, according to CCHIE. Another continuum of care issue is emergency department encounters being communicated back to the patient's primary physician. The HIE platform provides for the connection of the ED encounter to be linked and a message sent to the physician.

Using iNexx, physician practices – whether they have an electronic health record already, or rely on paper records – can manage this process electronically, making it easier to provide the best possible care for patients, and collaborate with other members of a patient's care team.

[See also: N. C. practice adds management platform.]

"The ability to track referrals and communicate care documents across the counties our facility serves electronically with the same ease as sending or receiving an email makes our job much easier," said Jeff James, CEO Wilmington Health Associates.

 "We hope every physician will take advantage of this opportunity to improve patient care and practice workflow," said Sam Spicer, MD, CIO of New Hanover Regional Medical Center and CCHIE Board Director. "Getting on board will also help them qualify for Meaningful Use incentives."

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