Doctors, hospitals and others in the health care profession can now share patient information quickly and securely in New Jersey now that the state has launched the New Jersey Health Information Network.

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The state Department of Health is using almost $12 million in federal money to fund the health information exchange. Six regional health information organizations are connected into a single statewide system by the NJHIN.

"A coordinated, statewide health information exchange system allows health care providers to keep track of patients' medications and test results, avoid unnecessary procedures and improve outcomes," said New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary O'Dowd in a press release Wednesday. "The network will enhance access to patient information, improves quality of care and reduces costs. In medical emergencies, access to a patient's medical and medication record could mean the difference between life and death."

The health information exchange actually began in February, but O’Dowd made the official announcement Wednesday.