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UNC Health uses IBM for health exchange

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IBM is helping start a new health information exchange for the UNC Health Care System.

The technology will connect UNC Health facilities and physicians in Chapel Hill, Raleigh and elsewhere, allowing easier access to and sharing of patients' medical records.

"Our vision is an integrated healthcare system that allows medical information to follow patients," said J.P. Kichak, UNC Health's chief information officer, in a prepared statement.

The exchange is part of broader efforts at the national and state levels to use technology to improve the health-care system and reduce costs. North Carolina officials are working on a statewide health information exchange.

UNC Health techies have been working with IBM on its system for more than a year and it will be at least a year before it's fully operational, Kichak said in a phone interview.

"It will pass upwards of 2 million patient records around the system every year," he said. "Unlike a banking transaction, health-care transactions are a lot more data and a lot more complicated."

One goal of UNC Health is to make it easier for doctors to refer patients to other providers within the system, which has been expanding its reach by affiliating with more physicians across the Triangle.

Financial terms of UNC Health's two-year contract with IBM weren't disclosed.

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About the blogger

Assistant Business Editor Alan M. Wolf joined the N&O in 1999 covering the business of health care. He became an editor in 2001, and helps oversee the paper's daily business coverage and Sunday Work&Money section. He lives in Clayton with his wife and two children. Reach him at 919-829-4572 or e-mail him.