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Alaska Selects its Health Information Exchange Network: Alaska eHealth Network (AeHN)

Alaskans reached another milestone in their journey toward a 21st century, digitized health care system recently when the state of Alaska selected the Alaska e-Health Network (AeHN) (ak-ehealth.org) as Alaska's official health information exchange management entity.  The network will become the statewide superhighway for securely moving Electronic Health Records (EHRs) and related health care information, connecting health care providers across the state for safer, less expensive health care services.

"While some of Alaska's providers and their patients have already benefitted from limited-scale EHR systems, the designation of a single, statewide network will allow exponential improvement in secure, efficient information exchange, which ultimately benefits the health of all Alaskans," said Rebecca Madison, Executive Director of AeHN.  "Our vision is an interoperable network of EHRs for providers in Alaska with the ability to connect to a nationwide, interoperable network.  This designation is another great leap forward that builds momentum for reaching our goal-healthy Alaskans."

AeHN's specific objective is to unify separate electronic health care networks that are being developed throughout the state, supplying rural health providers with connectivity to referral providers both in Alaska and in the Lower 48. This coordinated network will facilitate the exchange of critical health information between health providers. It will also support telemedicine services, the transfer of high-resolution images for patient care, as well as videoconferencing and Voice-over-Internet applications.

The network designation closely follows other positive developments in Alaska's EHR world.  Earlier this month, AeHN received $3,632,357 in federal funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to establish one of 60 nationwide health information technology assistance centers.  These centers will provide much-needed technical assistance to eligible doctors and hospitals that select and implement electronic record systems. 

Earlier this year, the Alaska EHR Alliance (http://aehra.org) selected two outstanding Electronic Health Record (EHR) vendors as best choices for Alaska's health care providers.  The vendors, e-Mds ( www.e-mds.com), and Greenway (www.greenwaymedical.com), were identified in a rigorous review process to see who could provide services best suited in cost and convenience to Alaska's health care providers, including those in small practices.  

Alaska e-Health Network's founding partners include the Alaska Federal Health Care Partnership, the Alaska Primary Care Association, the Alaska Native Tribal Health Consortium, the Alaska State Hospital and Nursing Home Association, the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, the Alaska EHR Alliance, Premera Blue Cross/Blue Shield, the University of Alaska, AARP Alaska, and the State Department of Health and Social Services.

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