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State CIOs Need To Play Bigger Role In Health IT Plans

Since states pay a lot of money through programs like Medicaid and to provide benefits for state employees, state CIOs need to promote efforts and remove barriers hindering health-care IT efforts in their states.
As the push for a national health-care IT infrastructure evolves, state CIOs need to have a hand in the health IT activities taking place in their states, suggests the National Association of State Chief Information Officers, an organization representing CIOs in 50 states and six U.S. territories.

Because states are large payers of health-care services through programs like Medicaid, as well large purchasers of health benefits for state employees, state CIOs need to promote efforts and remove barriers hindering health-care IT efforts in their states, NASCIO leaders said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

For instance, typically, 22% of states' budgets are earmarked for health programs like Medicaid. However, health IT such as interoperable E-health record systems can "greatly reduce the time to search for information, and reduce costs" by billions of dollars annually, said NASCIO executive director Doug Robinson.

The current involvement state CIOs varies from state to state—some CIOs have little or no involvement with health IT initiatives while others participate on formal task forces and committees. NASCIO leaders said the organization will soon conduct a "state of the states survey" to gauge the current level of state CIO involvement with health IT activities in each state.

In the meanwhile, NASCIO advices its members over the next 18 months to keep tabs on how E-health record initiatives are shaping up in their states, including efforts by public and private health-care providers participating in regional health information organizations, or RHIOs, as well as federal health IT progress.

State CIOs need to "make sure states are represented in public and private initiatives like RHIOs as well as on a national level," said Steve Dawson, CIO of New Jersey.