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N.C. HIE Extending to Skilled Nursing Facilities

July 30, 2014
by David Raths
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Facilities will get access to Direct secure e-mail and chronic disease registries and will be able to submit data to the NC Immunization Registry

One of the country’s greatest healthcare communications challenges involves patients moving from one level of care to the next — for instance from a hospital to a skilled nursing facility. To ease that transition, the North Carolina Health Information Exchange (NC HIE) has announced a partnership with Liberty Healthcare and Rehabilitation Services to provide HIE connectivity for Liberty’s 21 skilled nursing facilities across North Carolina.

The partnership will establish connectivity between NC HIE and Liberty Healthcare’s electronic health record (EHR) system, PointClickCare.  The pilot site, Liberty Commons Nursing and Rehabilitation Center of Halifax County in Weldon, N.C., went live on the HIE Network at the end of June.

NC HIE connects almost 800 sites, including hospitals, ambulatory practices, clinics, local health departments, and skilled nursing and home health providers.

Through connection to NC HIE, skilled nursing facilities will also be provided with Direct secure e-mail, have access to chronic disease registries, and be able to submit data to the NC Immunization Registry (NCIR) and other public health surveillance systems in order to better manage population health.

On its web site, NC HIE gives a use case example of a patient going through an initial nursing assessment at a skilled nursing facility (SNF) following a hip fracture. During the assessment the patient complains of weakness and is noted to be increasingly short of  breath. Her condition rapidly worsens. The nursing facility staff members log on to the NC HIE Clinical Portal and find that the patient is allergic to the antibiotic taken before transfer from the hospital to the SNF. The patient is sent back to the emergency department for immediate care. The connection to NC HIE made prompt treatment and diagnosis possible.

“As provider diversity among NC HIE participants increases, the benefits that both providers and patients experience will multiply," said NC HIE President Chris Scarboro, in a prepared statement. “This is especially true of providers that serve the aged and disabled populations, where care coordination is critical to avoiding medical errors and unnecessary hospital readmissions.”