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Electronic Health Records (EHR)

The single greatest opportunity for reducing costs and improving quality of health care is through efficiency.  Physicians and other medical providers are in the process of converting paper health record systems to an electronic health record (EHR) system. An EHR system is a digitalized software solution used for patient medical and billing recordkeeping. Records are generated and maintained within an institution, integrated delivery network, clinic or physicians office. Eligible providers with EHR systems may join a network for health information exchange (HIE) and digitalized records will be available to be shared real time across different health care settings throughout the continuum of care wherever and whenever necessary. These new advancements will allow for:

  • Health care outcomes to be the focus; not just technology use
  • Improvement of quality, safety, efficiency and reduce health  disparities
  • Improve care coordination
  • Engage patients and their families in their own health care
  • Ensure privacy and security protections for Privacy Health Information (PHI)
  • Improve population and public health

Currently many doctor offices rely on paper medical records. The problems associated with maintaining and transferring medical records on paper among many different health care providers can significantly impact patient safety and continuity of care. In Alaska, patients are often required to travel between rural communities and facilities to receive health care. Patients often arrive with no record of current medications or past history of illness; making effective treatment difficult. The new enhanced systems will ensure that accurate health information is available immediately and is easily accessible to providers throughout the health care system - as well as with hospitals, labs and the pharmacy. This integrated approach provides health care experts the tools to make accurate diagnoses and treatment decisions.

EHR certifications: The link to the ONC authorized certification organizations is http://healthit.hhs.gov/portal/server.pt?open=512&mode=2&objID=3120

New resouces have been made available from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS):

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