NC Health Information Exchange

If you treat patients insured by the State Health Plan, NC Medicaid, and/or NC Health Choice, you must take action to connect to the NC Health Information Exchange (HIE), called NC HealthConnex, by June 1, 2021, in order to continue to get paid.

The action required by June 1 is signing a participation agreement with the NCHIE, stating that you are working to adopt an electronic health record or other vehicle to deliver basic information to the HIE. It will likely take years for the NCHIE/HealthConnex to work on actual connections for individual physician practices. 

While there is a one-year waiver available, it appears to be for those who are close to retirement. Psychiatric practices (even solo) may be better off signing a full participation agreement with NCHIE to meet the June 1 deadline. Signing a full participation agreement now may end up buying you more time than a 1-year waiver should you qualify and it will include a business association agreement (BAA) that conforms to HIPAA requirements.

NCPA has been fighting hard to help NCHIE understand the unique position of psychiatrists and other mental health professionals regarding patient confidentiality, and we won a two-year extension a couple of years ago. NCPA lobbyists are currently fighting bills that would impose civil financial penalties for not being connected to the HIE, as well as fighting for an additional one-year extension. However, we still recommend you take action now.

NCPA has also been talking with a company, SmartLink, that has designed a platform to connect mental health professionals to the HIE using billing and claims information through their pipeline, submitting only the most basic of information to NC HealthConnex to meet the mandate requirements. 

Are you unsure whether you are required to connect? Do you need help finding an EHR vendor for your practice? Are you feeling totally lost about what steps to take? There are numerous resources. Let the staff at NCPA hear from you so that we can provide some assistance.