September 14, 2018 — On Thursday, East Tennessee Health Information Network (etHIN) and North Carolina’s statewide health information exchange NC HealthConnex, run by the North Carolina HIE Authority (NC HIEA), finalized an emergency connection to support the medical records needs of North Carolina residents who evacuated to Tennessee to escape Hurricane Florence.
etHIN and the NC HIEA began discussions Tuesday afternoon about establishing the connection through the nationwide eHealth Exchange, of which etHIN and NC HIEA are both members. Plans were made and work quickly began at both HIEs to create and test the connection. In less than 48 hours from the initial phone call, the connection was established, allowing providers in East Tennessee to retrieve medical records for North Carolina residents who were seeking care here after evacuating.
“Hurricane Florence has created a very dire situation for the residents of North Carolina, and the hotels and campgrounds in our area have been filling up all week with evacuees,” said Leigh Sterling, Executive Director of etHIN. “This is the fastest we have ever been able to establish a connection with another HIE, and I want to give credit to the etHIN and NC HealthConnex staffs who worked through the late evening hours for two days to get the connection working. It was a herculean effort on the part of both entities, and all of us at etHIN, including our Board of Directors, are very happy to be part of supporting the residents of North Carolina in their time of need.”
“Our neighboring HIEs have been incredibly responsive to our unplanned need,” said Christie Burris, Executive Director for NC HIEA. “It’s estimated that over one million residents in North Carolina and Virginia were evacuated from our coastlines. This is a testament to the collaboration of both of our teams and vendor partners and strengthens the importance of HIEs across the country in supporting the patients and providers that we serve.”
etHIN also has connections to HIEs in other states through the eHealth Exchange and the Strategic Health Information Collaborative (SHIEC) HIE-to-HIE network, Patient Centered Data Home (PCDH). etHIN is currently working to establish an eHealth Exchange connection to The Health Collaboration, an HIE that covers southern Ohio and areas of northern Kentucky.
A connection between etHIN and North Carolina had been previously discussed but the technical work had not begun until this past Tuesday afternoon.