NASCIO steps up health IT efforts

With the accelerating nationwide push to establish electronic health records and a health exchange network, the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) is increasing its efforts to get its members more actively engaged in the process.

It published its first brief this week that outlines the stakes involved with health information technology for state CIOs and offered guidance for how CIOs can steer their enterprise IT efforts to better match national efforts.

NASCIO also plans to produce next month the first survey that will accurately gauge the state of the states' activities in health IT.

"We hope that this brief will jump-start thinking by state CIOs on this issue," said Charles Dawson, CIO of New Jersey and co-chairman of NASCIO's 2005-2006 Health IT Committee. "The train is leaving the station, but there's still time to catch it."

The brief tries to lay out the legitimate case for involving CIOs in this endeavor, said Doug Robinson, NASCIO's executive director, and it attempts to detail the kind of value-added arguments that CIOs might need to bring the various components of their governments' health IT activities together.

"Very few states have a centralized health IT apparatus, so it's incumbent on the CIO to look at that and make sure all players are at the table [so that their] state can be involved in the national discussion," he said.

The upcoming survey will better determine who has those kinds of detailed plans and who doesn't, he said.

NASCIO will also work with government parties such as the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT and the American Health Information Community to see how state CIOs will best fit into national activities, he said.

"A part of our effort is to educate [those] CIOs that are not yet involved” in health IT, he said. "We promote the benefits of enterprise architecture for states, and we believe a lot of this discipline can be applied to health IT."

About the Author

Brian Robinson is a freelance writer based in Portland, Ore.


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