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ASHNHA Senior VP Jeannie Monk argued in her April testimony against a senate bill to repeal the program that such a move would threaten the sustainability of community hospitals, which must continue to provide 24-hour emergency services to all in the community regardless of a person's ability to pay.
ASHNHA provides specialty physicians and healthcare through telemedicine services to its six member hospitals and clinics, designed to serve over 50% of Alaska's rural and remote population.
"Right now, we've got eleven hospitals on board Collective Medical Technologies' Emergency Department Information Exchange [EDIE], which is designed to reduce unnecessary emergency department visits while making sure that patients get the right care in the right place," says Connie Beemer, MBA, PMP, director of member services and operations at ASHNHA. The project--modeled after Washington's ER is for Emergencies Project--saved Washington state $33.6 million in one year.
For now, however, the focus is on resolving contract issues to get all of the ASHNHA's members onto the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program.
ASHNHA has also launched a specialty nurse training program, focused on perioperative or operating room nurses.
"Seven years from now, we should see a big bump in the number of new physicians returning to Alaska," said ASHNHA's Betit.