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What is health information exchange?

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The ability to exchange health information electronically is the foundation of efforts to improve health care quality, safety, and efficiency in the United States. Health information exchange (HIE) is the electronic sharing of health-related information.

The Alaska eHealth Network (AeHN) is the organization that manages the electronic sharing of health-related information between electronic health record (EHR) systems for Alaska.

This is done through secure, encrypted data exchange using standards developed specifically for health care. The only person who can access and view your data is your physician or their designated staff using a decryption key.

The HIE is used for secure encrypted transport of clinical data from one provider to another in cases of referrals, specialty consulting and emergencies. Data that is transported is a subset of the electronic health record on file in your provider’s office or in your electronic hospital record. This data can include lab results, radiology reports, admission and discharge summaries, and some insurance information. This is information is sent to the HIE when you visit your doctor or receive treatment in the hospital.

If you have never been seen by a provider who is a participant of the HIE or your provider uses a paper record, then your information is not part of the HIE. The Alaska eHealth Network exists solely to securely encrypt your health record and transmit it to another provider as allowed by law. Sharing health information electronically eliminates the need for faxing, copying, or hand-carrying your record and replaces it with a secure auditable record.

Nationally, electronic health information exchange has resulted in:

  • faster and more effective emergency treatment,
  • greater patient satisfaction,
  • improved public health disease reporting, and
  • avoidance of duplicate testing, negative drug interactions, and allergic reactions.