Alaska HIE to deploy Orion Health technology

Alaska's statewide health information exchange is slated to be up and operating by the middle of 2011.

The Alaska eHealth Network, Alaska's statewide health information exchange, has tapped Santa Monica, Calif.-based Orion Health as its primary technology provider, with the purchase Orion's HIE solution. AeHN will deploy the technology as a hosted, software-as-a-service model.

The selection follows the designation last April of AeHN by the State of Alaska as Alaska's official health information exchange management entity, and became official with a contract between Orion Health and AeHN signed on Nov. 30.

Orion Health will help AeHN securely move electronic health records and related healthcare information, connecting healthcare providers across the state for safe, secure and less expensive healthcare services, according to AeHN officials. The program will create a system to track chronic disease across the state, coordinate care programs and improve patient health.

"With the experience and expertise of Orion Health on our side, we are very optimistic about getting Alaska's health information exchange up and operating by the middle of 2011," said Paul Sherry, president of AeHN's board of directors. "That's great news for all Alaskans who need healthcare, and Alaska's caregivers who provide it."

Today in Alaska, most patient-specific clinical information is stored in paper-based medical records or non-connected provider-specific electronic systems. These records are difficult for caregivers to access and share across unaligned organizations, particularly when needed for emergency situations, said Sherry. Paper records also make it difficult to monitor and respond rapidly to public health events to protect the population from emerging public threats. As more caregivers adopt electronic health records and the Alaska eHealth Network expands, these challenges will greatly diminish.

"AeHN needs a solution to unify healthcare across a broad rural region that integrates different data types and provides physicians with a complete view of the information they need to improve health across the region," said Paul Viskovich, president of Orion Health North America. He said Orion would apply knowledge gained from similar programs on the Alaska project.

Sherry says AeHN went through an exhaustive evaluation process and critically reviewed the performance of potential vendors before selecting Orion Health. "Orion Health proved its ability to deliver the kind of system Alaskans demand: one that is efficient and cost-effective, but also assures patient safety and patient privacy," said Sherry "Their track record of success in large health information exchanges in other states and countries demonstrated they were the right choice to help us move healthcare technology further into the 21st century."

Orion Health was selected after a thorough, five-month competitive process managed by AeHN. The process included guidance by an experienced consultant and a statewide taskforce of healthcare stakeholders. AeHN plans to deploy a pilot program in early 2011 with four Alaska hospitals and associated clinics participating in the exchange of authorized medical information.