U.S. needs harmonious IT standards, official says

The United States needs to establish standards that work together in health information technology so medical personnel can effectively communicate, a top information technology official said.

The nation must "ensure that privacy and security standards are up to date" and take steps to prevent data breaches, Robert Kolodner, interim national coordinator of health information, said during an opening speech at the Health Information Technology Summit for national, regional and state healthcare decision makers.

During the two-day event of the eHealth Initiative and Bridges to Excellence, leaders are discussing emerging policy changes related to health IT, government and the private sector.

Kolodner said the United States has made incredible strides in health IT over the past few years. However, the price of health insurance for companies has dramatically increased and has taken a "toll on our nation and economy," he said.

The high cost is only expected to grow, added Kolodner, who attributed it to higher incomes and higher insurance rates. "We are not getting the value for the dollars we spend," he said. He also said electronic health records are needed.

Mark McClellan, administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, ran through various programs to support health IT, including steps to expand standards for making systems work together. He cited uncertainty regarding the financial consequences of new technologies.

McClellan said his agency seeks to use technology and knowledge to help the country achieve the best health care for patients at the lowest cost. A former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, he also said the country is spending more than it should on healthcare. Contributing to the spending is "the overuse and misuse" of some technologies, he said.

McClellan said his agency is looking to focus more on supporting quality care. "CMS is making major investments in health IT in the drive to personal healthcare," he said. The center also has made a "good deal of progress" in Internet-related health IT projects and is actively promoting health IT records, he said.

Beginning in mid-October, new Medicare tools will be available to help people learn more about their health coverage, including comparative information about prescription-drug plans and the ability to track the status of Medicare claims and learn about preventive benefits.

The tools will be available at mymedicare.gov and medicare.gov. "Millions of our beneficiaries go online," and the number is increasing, McClellan said.

According to key highlights from the eHealth Initiative's 2006 survey of health information exchanges, which was released at the event, 36 health IT bills were passed in 24 states during 2005 and 2006. Ten governors have passed executive orders related to health IT. The survey also found that two-thirds of community or locally focused respondents are concentrating on the implementation of health information networks. Only 29 percent of state-level initiatives are focusing on the implementation of health IT networks, the research stated.

Stay up-to-date with federal news alerts and analysis — Sign up for GovExec's email newsletters.
FROM OUR SPONSORS
JOIN THE DISCUSSION
Close [ x ] More from GovExec
 
 

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from GovExec.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation

    Download
  • The Big Data Campaign Trail

    With everyone so focused on security following recent breaches at federal, state and local government and education institutions, there has been little emphasis on the need for better operations. This report breaks down some of the biggest operational challenges in IT management and provides insight into how agencies and leaders can successfully solve some of the biggest lingering government IT issues.

    Download
  • Communicating Innovation in Federal Government

    Federal Government spending on ‘obsolete technology’ continues to increase. Supporting the twin pillars of improved digital service delivery for citizens on the one hand, and the increasingly optimized and flexible working practices for federal employees on the other, are neither easy nor inexpensive tasks. This whitepaper explores how federal agencies can leverage the value of existing agency technology assets while offering IT leaders the ability to implement the kind of employee productivity, citizen service improvements and security demanded by federal oversight.

    Download
  • IT Transformation Trends: Flash Storage as a Strategic IT Asset

    MIT Technology Review: Flash Storage As a Strategic IT Asset For the first time in decades, IT leaders now consider all-flash storage as a strategic IT asset. IT has become a new operating model that enables self-service with high performance, density and resiliency. It also offers the self-service agility of the public cloud combined with the security, performance, and cost-effectiveness of a private cloud. Download this MIT Technology Review paper to learn more about how all-flash storage is transforming the data center.

    Download
  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

    Download

When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.