Alaska Native Medical Center

Alaska Health Information Exchange (HIE)

Patient health information when and where it’s needed

Imagine you or a loved one are in an accident and suddenly in an emergency room, unable to speak. Emergency providers who have never seen you are about to administer care. They quickly log on to a computer and instantly have access to your health care history – what you are allergic to, what medications you are taking, any recent health complications or provider encounters, and more. For a patient, this could be the difference between life and death.

ANTHC is helping expand the Alaska Health Information Exchange (HIE), which allows health care organizations across Alaska that use electronic health records (EHRs) to safely, securely and quickly share patient medical records. The HIE will be critical tool in emergency situations, but also helpful in primary care and specialty care situations for patients who see multiple providers. It will be especially important for Alaska Native people living in rural Alaska who often travel for care. With the HIE, health records that were once unobtainable or delayed in delivery via fax or on paper are now available with a click.

In recent years, most of the nation’s health care organizations, including the Alaska Native Medical Center and many in the Alaska Tribal Health System, have implemented EHRs to elevate care and quality for patients and improve communication and efficiency for staff. Unfortunately, often those electronic records cannot be shared between organizations. The HIE provides that bridge.

The HIE will also allow patients to have access to their health records in a secure platform. Patients who have concerns about HIE can easily opt out of it, as well. Or they can choose a partial opt out in which specific information can only be used in the event of an emergency.

Security of patient information is the top priority with the HIE. Only patients, providers and insurance companies that are billing can access the records.

“In most cases of a patient going from one provider to another, there is zero access to their health care data,” explained Stewart Ferguson, ANTHC’s Chief Information Officer. “The HIE will be a place a doctor can see information about their patient and ultimately provide the best care for them.”

For additional information about the Alaska HIE, visit the Alaska eHealth Newtwork at www.ak-ehealth.org/.