Wisconsin automating health care information

A new board will develop a plan to automate all health care information systems by 2010.

Wisconsin Gov. Jim Doyle signed an executive order Nov. 2 establishing a new board to develop a plan to automate all health care information systems in the state by 2010.

“The field of medicine has yet to harness the power of information technology at the most important point in the health care system -- patient treatment,” Doyle said in a press release.

The eHealth Care Quality and Patient Safety Board “will develop a road map for the private and public sectors to move forward in a coordinated way, develop this capacity for Wisconsin in a way that improves care for the Wisconsin population, and reduce overall health care costs for both the public and private sectors,” he added.

The state spends about $6 billion “on unneeded, or in some cases dangerous, treatment of patients,” according to the press release.

According to Executive Order 129, the board will develop recommendations for:

• Identifying current electronic health resources, including funding.

• Identifying technologies, including benefits and shortcomings, for developing a statewide integrated and interoperable infrastructure.

• Serving consumer health information needs.

• Providing privacy and security in electronic health information exchange.

• Assisting in the adoption of electronic standards to enable information exchange statewide and nationally.

• Establishing organizational and governance structures for the statewide infrastructure.

The board, which will solicit opinions from health care executives, technology experts and others, is expected to provide detailed recommendations and a timetable to achieve them over the next five years. The board will report its activities annually to the governor.

The federal government recently unveiled a national health IT initiative, which includes forming an expert panel to assess the current state of electronic health records adoption, developing and distributing guidelines for electronic health records adoption, designing surveys to measure the adoption and creating an annual report. President Bush has called for widespread adoption of electronic health records by 2014.

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