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Arizona's Health-e Connection Roadmap

On August 30, 2005, Governor Janet Napolitano signed an executive order aimed at establishing electronic health records (EHRs) statewide in Arizona by 2010, four years earlier than a federal government proposal by President Bush. The initiative would move Arizona toward electronic health data exchange among all of the state's payers, health care providers, patients, researchers, and government agencies. Arizona expects that statewide EHRs not only will produce savings within the state, but also enhance availability of health information at the point of care; reduce medical errors and unnecessary duplication of procedures; improve coordination of care between hospitals, physicians, and other health care professionals; facilitate health care research; and promote greater consumer participation in health decisions (due to greater access to their own health records).

The Health-e Connection Roadmap establishes a structure, process, and work products. Officially launched on October 5, 2005, the Roadmap will guide legislative and regulatory actions, advance public and private cooperation in developing a health information infrastructure throughout Arizona, and maximize federal financial involvement. Arizona will use the process to recommend action steps and milestones to realize their 2010 target.

The Roadmap is being developed by a 42-member Health-e Connection steering committee composed of directors of health care associations, major employers, hospital executives, and other health care leaders from across the state. Based on input from five task groups, a core team will produce the Roadmap, which will then be reviewed and modified by the steering committee. By April 2006, the final Roadmap will be presented to the governor with recommendations for further steps. The steering committee met on November 15, 2005, and discussed plans with national and local health leaders for ways to facilitate the creation of digital medical records and the interoperable exchange of medical data. Two foundations in the Phoenix area, St. Luke's Health Initiative and the BHHS Legacy Foundation, have provided funding for the Roadmap process.

"The Health-e Connection project has broad support within the health care community," said Beth Schermer, a co-chair of the project's steering committee. "We have received an overwhelming number of requests to participate in developing the Roadmap from providers, employers, insurance companies, and consumers." [1]

In addition, the state has hired health information technology experts to ensure that the new technology can guarantee patient privacy and security; generate standards to enable statewide adoption of EHRs; and identify potential sources of funding, existing e-health resources, and organizational and governance structures for the statewide EHR infrastructure.

Early adoption of EHRs in an interoperable electronic health care system is expected to improve the quality and efficiency of care, while significantly decreasing costs. Federal officials have estimated a changeover to EHRs could cut the national health care budget by 10%. Under the current system that relies largely on hand notes and hard copies of medical records, patients' histories can be misplaced and pertinent health information is less likely to be shared among multiple providers—increasing the risk of medical errors, duplicated tests, and improper prescriptions.

In Arizona, physician practices tend to be small; thus, the transition to electronic records in Arizona will likely be more costly than in other states, because economies of scale will not be as achievable. On the other hand, the state's health care market and demographics may help it to succeed in this initiative. The state has a fairly small population, a growing health care sector, and an abundance of managed care organizations.

[1] State of Arizona Government Information Technology Agency News Release. "Governor's Panel Charts Course for E-Health." November 15, 2005. Available online:

For More Information
Contact: D. J. Harper, Communication and Outreach Manager, Arizona Government Information Technology Agency (GITA), (602) 364-4772

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