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STATE GOVERNMENT AFFAIRS State Government Affairs Update Mitchell Tobin, JD nology as part of an economic recovery pack- less paperwork. It could also make it easier Jana Conover, BA age. State governments are also looking at for individuals to maintain their wellness Barbara Anderson, JD options for getting involved in the imple- through better access to their own health Bruce Allain, JD mentation of HIT, and are actively question- information. ing what role (if any) they should have. If HIT is used to create searchable data- his article looks at what state govern- Vernon Smith, PhD, of Health Management bases, it also could be used to detect and T ments are considering doing to facili- tate the development of health infor- mation technology systems. Specifically, the Associates has surveyed state governors and has reported that 70 percent of states consider e-health and HIT a very high prior- track infectious disease outbreaks. In addi- tion, health information databases may also improve the delivery of evidence-based results of the “State Legislative Actions in ity, and not one state listed it as not being a healthcare, as each record becomes evidence 2 Health IT and Electronic Health Information priority of what treatments work well and which are Exchange Financing” report, published by CRNAs may play a key role in the adop- less effective. the National Conference of State Legislatures tion of such HIT systems as automated anes- Some healthcare experts have raised for the National Governors Association Center thesia information systems (e.g., electronic concerns about the proliferation of HIT. for Best Practices, are examined. This article anesthesia records), or other broader-encom- Bruce Klepper, a healthcare market analyst, 3 also includes a reminder regarding New Jersey passing electronic record keeping systems and David Kibbe, with the American Board of Nursing rules requiring CRNAs to within clinical facilities. Academy of Family Physicians, have obtain advanced practice nurse status. published an open letter to President Obama, What is Health Information noting that current HIT systems are expen- Introduction Technology? sive, difficult to implement, and that elec- Information technology, the Internet, and One of the challenges in discussing what tronic health records “from different vendors electronic databases are transforming the way needs to be done regarding HIT, as well as are not yet interoperable, meaning that business gets done. Healthcare produces a the potential benefits and problems, is that patient information cannot yet be easily great deal of data that need to be accessed as interested parties have differing ideas of what exchanged between systems.” Kibbe and professionals provide care to patients. The HIT actually means. Klepper have stated that “[i]f America’s physi- healthcare industry seems to be lagging There seems to be a consensus that HIT cian practices suddenly rushed to install the behind some industries in the adoption of includes electronic medical records, but systems of their choice, it would only dramati- information technology, though, despite a some analysts also include within HIT cally intensify the Babel that already exists.” belief among some experts that health infor- computerized entry systems for the ordering mation technology (HIT) has the potential to of tests or medications, support systems for Barriers to the Adoption of HIT reduce costs and improve care. A recent clinical decision making, electronic prescrib- One major barrier to the adoption of HIT is survey published in the New England Journal ing of medications, telemedicine, and biosur- the costs versus financial benefits. For exam- of Medicine, for example, showed only about veillance (i.e., using electronic records to ple, it can be extremely expensive and diffi- 17 percent of the nation’s physicians monitor for a case of an unusual disease cult for a healthcare professional to switch to 1 currently use computerized patient records. and/or an unusual cluster of cases). Anytime electronic medical records, and while there are The potential benefits of HIT, along with a state proposal for aiding the development financial benefits to such a switch, these bene- the slow pace of progress so far, have led of HIT is being discussed, it is necessary to fits are often realized by the insurance payors many policymakers to believe that govern- determine which of these items is actually or the patients, not the healthcare professional ment involvement is necessary. The federal being considered. making the investment. government has been involved, and may Large, integrated healthca
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