HIMSS is honored to welcome today’s guest bloggers: Jim Douglas, former Governor of Vermont and Jim Geringer, former Governor of Wyoming were members of the State Alliance for eHealth and are nationally recognized leaders of the effects health information technology can have on states.
In July 2011, the HIMSS State Advisory Roundtable was formed to help identify health IT issues that cross state boundaries and provide grassroots insight, recommendations and action steps to assist states officials in advancing health IT. Members of the Roundtable are Champions of health IT representing different perspectives from state and Federal government, state level advocacy, regional extension centers and health information exchange. Because the states have the primary responsibility to assure their citizens’ health, the Roundtable meets quarterly to discuss important challenges and opportunities at the state level for which health IT might be part of the solution.
As former Governors, we know that many states still find themselves far behind where they were economically when the recession started 4½ years ago. The Roundtable believes that one way to address the economic challenges of many state budgets is to encourage our states to invest in health information technology. Now that’s a bold statement given the current economic challenges faced by states today and the potential political shift during this election year.
But our fellow members of the HIMSS State Advisory Roundtable – a representative body working to address the unique challenges and opportunities for states on the path towards interoperable, private and secure electronic health information exchange – believe it particularly since several great examples of the use of Health IT were being developed in our particular states even before the current controversy over the federal health reform act.
During this week’s opening of the HIMSS Government Health IT Conference and Exhibition in Washington D.C., Governor Jim Douglas released the Roundtable’s first report States Will Transform Healthcare through Health IT and HIE Organizations. Our report opens with a historical snapshot of health IT legislation and an overview of innovative and collaborative state initiatives. Critical challenges faced by states are recognized and supported with recommendations for meeting them.
- States should continue to leverage their state-level HIE and state level health IT infrastructure in new and innovative ways. Close working partnerships between State governmental entities, federally supported RECs, Beacon Communities, Medicaid Offices, Professional Trade Associations and HIMSS National and local Chapters will expedite the implementation of health IT in the States.
- Health IT transcends political lines and should be on the federal and state agendas over the next several years in order to continue the current momentum and improvement of care quality and healthcare spending.
- Encourage states to facilitate, engage and educate patients and consumers with the delivery of their healthcare services and promote overall increase in health literacy. The delivery of high quality healthcare requires patient participation and shared decision making in which the patient, families and providers use the most effective steps to improve healthcare outcomes. Population Health Literacy is the essential first step in maximizing improvements in healthcare.
- Health IT is a necessary and vital precursor to a lot of the other healthcare reform actions that are contemplated by both private payers and public payers both at the state and federal level.
- State-level HIEs need to be prepared to shift their business models as Federal and State health reform policies continue to shift from fee-for-service to pay-for-quality models in order to develop and maintain sustainability. “Health Information Exchange” will likely need to shift to “Health Care Coordination Facilitation.”
- Better coordination between and among federal agencies and state health agencies to ensure the value of state-level HIEs and funding sources are aligned to ensure success.
We’d like to hear of your experiences in your states and how they are addressing health information technology for better and more affordable health services.