NCMS Morning Rounds 11-1-19

Welcome to November!

Enjoy today’s NCMS Morning Rounds.

Nov. 1, 2019

NC HealthConnex Teams Up with NC AHEC

The North Carolina Health Information Exchange Authority (NC HIEA) recently announced a new partnership with the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (NC AHEC) to increase training opportunities for physicians and physician assistants  participating in the state-designated health information exchange, NC HealthConnex.

As NC HealthConnex has been rapidly adding practices that serve Medicaid patients to its statewide network, the partnership with NC AHEC will better train and prepare those practices to utilize the HIE in their clinical workflows.

Thanks to funding from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) existing and newly connected NC HealthConnex participants will have access to onsite and virtual training, including training on new features and specific use cases, as well as the facilitation of larger health system or regional group workshops/trainings.

The NC AHEC program has 35 practice support coaches trained to work with providers and clinic staff across the state. These coaches have helped more than 6,000 providers at 1,400 practices move toward promoting interoperability (formerly meaningful use) of their electronic health records; nearly 600 practices with Medicaid Transformation education and issue resolution; over 500 practices improve office systems for better care; and more than 300 practices achieve patient-centered medical home recognition.

“The State of North Carolina has invested in a modernized HIE network that supports health care providers statewide to break down information silos, achieve greater health care outcomes for patients, and create efficiencies in state-funded health care programs such as Medicaid,” said Christie Burris, executive director of the NC HIEA. “Our partnership with NC AHEC will help provide participating providers with ongoing education resources to leverage the additional point of care information within NC HealthConnex.”

For more information, visit

NC Reports 61 Vaping-Linked Lung Injury Cases

Earlier this week the NC Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) reported that North Carolina cases of severe lung injury associated with e-cigarette use or vaping continues to rise with 61 cases in people ranging in age from 13 to 72. The North Carolina cases are among a rising outbreak reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) of 1,604 cases and 34 deaths in the United States and the US Virgin Islands as of Oct. 22. The acute lung injury cases have occurred in the context of a rapid rise of e-cigarette use by young people.

Lung injury cases are being reported in younger adults and teenagers with approximately 79 percent of patients under 35 years of age; 40 percent aged 18-24; and 14 percent younger than 18. All patients reported a history of using e-cigarette or vaping products, with most reporting a history of using THC-containing products. THC is the primary psychoactive component in cannabis.

Eighty percent of North Carolina cases interviewed reported vaping THC; 75 percent of North Carolina cases interviewed reported vaping flavors, 70 percent vaped nicotine, 50 percent vaped THC and nicotine, and 30 percent vaped CBD. No single product or source has been linked to all lung injury cases.

NCDHHS has joined the CDC’s efforts to urge people to consider not using e-cigarette or vaping products, especially e-cigarette or vaping products that contain THC. Learn more about what the CDC is advising clinicians.

“Those who use e-cigarettes or vaping products should not obtain them through informal sources and should not modify or add any substances,” said Zack Moore, MD, MPH, State Epidemiologist.

Read the NCDHHS press release.

NCMS Offers Practice Management Workshop at NCACFP Winter Meeting

NCMS staff are offering another in our annual series of practice management workshops as part of the NC Academy of Family Physicians Winter Family Physician Weekend, to be held in Asheville, Dec. 5-8.

NCMS Vice President for Rural Health Systems Innovation Franklin Walker, MBA, who has consulted with hundreds of physician and physician assistant practices throughout the state over the years, will be on hand for the Friday, Dec. 6, workshop “Value-based Health Care and Leadership,” along with NCMS Senior Vice President for Health System Innovation and Deputy General Counsel Melanie Phelps, JD, and the NCMS Foundation’s Kanof Institute for Physician Leadership Program Manager Aubrey Cuthbertson.

The NCMS traditionally holds a practice management workshop at this annual gathering of family physicians to address issues faced by primary care practices, particularly in rural areas. This year, issues to be discussed include coding, accountable care, population health and the role of physician leadership. Learn more and register.

In the News

Kaiser Unveils Initiative to Bolster Food Access, Becker’s Hospital Review, 10-28-19

Learning Opportunity

The 2020 Health Action Conference: Our Nation’s Health in the Balance, will be held Jan. 23-25 in Washington, D.C. Hosted by FamiliesUSA this event features state and national experts in health policy and advocacy, representatives from primary care associations as well as community activists. Learn more and register.


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