States Will Transform Healthcare Through HIE, Health IT

Government Health IT Conference Focus on HIE and Healthcare Transformation

This week in Washington, HIMSS sponsored the 8th Annual Government Health IT Conference & Exhibition. This year’s theme was 2012: The Year of Critical IT Decisions to Transform Healthcare. According to HIMSS Director David Collins, the focus being on “practical approaches in adapting innovative technology from the private sector to fit the challenges of the public sector, as well as how you can proactively navigate the complexities, restrictions and potential policy shifts that may occur in the federal health IT environment.” It promised and delivered education, exhibition, and networking.

Almost a year ago, the HIMSS State Advisory Roundtable was formed. It was charged to identify health IT issues that crossed state boundaries and provide recommendations and action plans to help States advance health IT. The members represent all aspects of the State and Federal levels and they meet quarterly.

At the conference this week the State Advisory Roundtable released their first report, States Will Transform Healthcare through Health IT and HIE Organizations. The reports covers the history of US health IT legislation, current State initiatives, and current State challenges. It also reports recommendations for States moving forward.

In the introduction the report claims that “States have a critical and essential role in health IT deployment and adoption, and currently have a significant impact at the local, regional and state level. This critical role means that states are shaping, and will continue to shape, the future of healthcare through technology and health information exchange.” The report concludes with these recommendations:

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.”
  6. 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.