Sunday, March 7, 2010

Gateway to Connect WNC to NHIN

The North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance, Inc. (NCHICA) on February 25th announced a Request for Proposal for the NHIN Gateway. The project is being funded through NCHICA’s contract with HHS’s Office of the National Coordinator (ONC) for HIT.

This project is in response to ONC’s strategic plan to support the implementation of the NHIN as a common platform for HIE across diverse entities, within communities and across the country to achieve the goals of the HITECH Act.

NCHICA is involved in incubating healthcare network initiatives for the state, most recently for the North Carolina Immunization Registry and the North Carolina Disease Event Tracking and Epidemiologic Collection Tool.

The gateway will connect the Western North Carolina (WNC) Health Network’s Data Link to the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). The WNC Health Network a mature health information exchange organization (HIO), links 16 hospitals in the region. The purpose of the gateway project is to demonstrate how an established HIO can become a node on the NHIN with implementation planned for this spring.

The WNC Data Link project connects WNC Health Network hospitals by allowing authorized physicians and clinicians to view electronic patient records across all WNC Health Network hospital systems. Upon request, WNC Data Link searches all of the WNC Health Network hospitals information systems for patient records and aggregates these records for display on a web portal. Data Link uses the Med Seek interoperability solution to display the information.

The WNC Health Network hospitals and the Asheville Veterans Administration share many patients since they are in close proximity to each other. In a period of 12 months, there were a total of 1,768 recorded veteran visits to the WNC 16 hospitals with 459 admissions additional ED visits.

The VA provides care to approximately 100,000 veterans from WNC, upstate South Carolina, and Northern Georgia with the majority of those individuals potentially treated in the WNC Health Network hospitals. The VA has recently established initial connectivity with a VA facility in San Diego and NCHICA expects that when community connectivity is available, the Asheville VA will be an early participant in the NHIN. NCHICA also expects to use this project as a learning experience and incubation for expanding NHIN connectivity for North Carolina institutions, both public and private.

Potential second year plans include further connectivity to the NHIN Gateway by public and private North Carolina based entities and incorporation of the NHIN Gateway within the State of North Carolina’s statewide HIE efforts.

The intent to respond to the proposal is due March 8, 2010 with proposals due March 22, 2010. For more information, contact Andrew Weniger at or contact Tara Waechter at or go to