Watching the Leaves Fall and EMRs Install in North Carolina

Posted on September 15, 2011 I Written By

As Social Marketing Director at Billian, Jennifer Dennard is responsible for the continuing development and implementation of the company's social media strategies for Billian's HealthDATA and Porter Research. She is a regular contributor to a number of healthcare blogs and currently manages social marketing channels for the Health IT Leadership Summit and Technology Association of Georgia’s Health Society. You can find her on Twitter @JennDennard.

In celebration of National Health Information Technology Week –  proclaimed by President Obama earlier this week in an effort to “urge all Americans to learn more about the benefits of Health IT by visiting HealthIT.gov, take action to increase adoption and meaningful use of Health IT, and utilize the information Health IT provides to improve the quality, safety, and cost effectiveness of health care in the United States – I’m hitting the road and heading to North Carolina.

Actually, it’s pure coincidence that my annual Fall road trip to Charlotte and Chapel Hill coincides with this newly official week of celebratory activities. (You can view a list of events here.) But it did prompt me to ponder the state of North Carolina’s EMR and overall healthcare IT utilization. My first stop was the HIMSS State HIT Dashboard, a handy resource that provides an overview of all 50 states’ utilization of healthcare IT.

According to HIMSS, as of September, 2011, North Carolina has six Health Information Exchanges (HIEs):

  •  NC Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance Inc. (NCHICA)
  •  Carolina HIE
  •  Coastal Connect
  •  Western NC Health Network (WNCHN Data Link)
  •  Southern Piedmont Partnership for Public Health (SoPHIE)
  •  Sandhills Community Care Network

The state’s regional extension center, which assists the state’s physicians with selecting and implementing EMRs, has at this point recruited 50% of the providers in its target group of 3,500 priority primary care providers, according to the NCHICA website. The NCHICA seems to be the main governing/advisory body over the state’s HIT activities. Its 239 member organizations will converge in just over a week at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville for its annual conference and exhibit. The lineup of sessions looks pretty interesting, especially “So You’ve Decided to Implement an EHR, Now What?” I’m sure conference attendees will have a great time at the Brews Cruise as well.

My next stop was Google, where a quick search yielded the fact that North Carolina, and the Duke Center for Health Informatics in particular, is home to MindLinc, an EMR for behavioral health. It is now the world’s largest codified behavioral health database, and provides information for research and benchmarking purposes.

My last stop was YouTube, where I found an interesting video created by Janet Apter, an RN and member of the faculty at the Duke School of Nursing, for Duke’s Doctor of Nursing Practice Program. Entitled “Electronic Health Record – a Promising Solution,” the video shares the perspective of one nurse/patient’s frustration with a lack of interoperability between facilities in the same health system, and makes a simple case for the need for a nationwide EHR system.