N.C., Georgia Connect Corrections Departments to HIEs

Nov. 3, 2022
NC HealthConnex will help Adult Correction deliver comprehensive healthcare services to the approximately 30,000 people in the state’s 55 correctional facilities

Georgia and North Carolina are joining the list of states where health information exchanges are providing access to the medical records of incarcerated persons to provide enhanced continuity of care.

The North Carolina Department of Public Safety and the future N.C. Department of Adult Correction have joined NC HealthConnex, North Carolina’s state-designated HIE.

Adult Correction, which will become a separate Cabinet agency as of Jan. 1, 2023, signed a participation agreement on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2022, with N.C. Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA), a business unit within the N.C. Department of Information Technology that operates NC HealthConnex. The agreement meets a 2018 legislative mandate for correctional facilities to fully participate in the state HIE in order to address gaps in healthcare.

“The NC HIEA is committed to providing this health data utility to support improving the health of all North Carolinians, and our partnership with the soon-to-be N.C. Department of Adult Correction is the next step in ensuring better, more informed care for some of the state’s most vulnerable populations,” said NC HIEA Executive Director Christie Burris, in a statement. “NC HealthConnex equips providers with the records and information to understand their patients’ needs, appropriately diagnose and treat them and coordinate their care.”

NC HealthConnex will help Adult Correction, as a new department, deliver comprehensive healthcare services to the approximately 30,000 people in the state’s 55 correctional facilities. Adult Correction’s healthcare system is separate from the care patients receive before and after incarceration and often relies on patients’ self-reported medical histories, which are difficult to verify.

NC HealthConnex will provide Adult Correction with a more complete view of offenders’ health records across providers, as well as their lab results, diagnostics, allergies, medications and more. This will enable correction facility medical providers to better evaluate offenders at the time of entry and more efficiently share medical information with providers in communities after release. Use of NC HealthConnex is anticipated to allow for a more seamless transition to and from prison by reducing:

  • Costs as staff spend less time spent searching for records or calling providers for medical histories
  • Unnecessary and duplicative diagnostic and laboratory testing
  • Delays in care by not repeating unnecessary tests and other studies
  • The burden on corrections clinical staff, with more efficient data access and improved delivery of care

In Georgia, Wellpath, which provides medical and mental healthcare services in prisons, jails, and other institutions, recently announced an alliance with the Morehouse School of Medicine and the HI-BRIDGE Health Information Exchange (HIE) to electronically share real-time correctional patient health information for care delivery throughout 70 facilities in Georgia.

This alliance enables the exchange of real-time, secure healthcare data between the HIE and Wellpath’s electronic health record platform, Electronic Records Management Application (ERMA). The data can include medication history, prior diagnoses, allergies, and lab reports from any one of the many contributing sources. The bi-directional data flow between Wellpath and HI-BRIDGE HIE also enables clinical services provided by Wellpath to be added to the patient record and shared with other local and national healthcare providers and organizations when the patient seeks medical care following release.

“Communication is crucial as it relates to healthcare delivery in our facilities and incorporating this model will help ensure information is being shared efficiently and in real-time,” said Georgia Department of Corrections Commissioner Timothy C. Ward, in a statement. “We appreciate our partners at Wellpath and their commitment to continuous process improvement involving healthcare for our offender population.”

The HI-BRIDGE HIE is an independent regional information exchange established through the National Center for Primary Care at Morehouse School of Medicine and connected to the Georgia Health Information Network (GaHIN). The Wellpath/HI-BRIDGE HIE relationship goes back to 2017, connecting a network of local county jails with the exchange of patient health information.

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