States Take the Lead in EHR Implementation
The role of governors and state legislators might be the most important in the federally mandated, nationwide adoption of electronic health records, according to health experts, the New York Times reports.
The creation of statewide EHR systems has been the main focus of state efforts, which include the creation of task forces to develop regional EHR systems. Federal officials also are establishing national EHR standards.
According to eHealth Initiative findings, more than half of all states are in the planning process, 38 states are holding community and statewide discussions, and nearly 21 states are leading the coordination efforts, said eHI CEO Janet Marchibroda. "We're seeing real forward movement, but it's still early," she said.
Funding is "the major limiting factor," and a large number of the hospitals do not have enough money to implement EHR systems in their institutions, said Dr. Kenneth Kizer, chair and CEO of Medsphere Systems.
Most states still are developing their plans and are months or years away from implementing their strategies, the Times reports. Individual states and communities have specific needs and wants, according to Marchibroda. For example, California has stricter patient privacy rules than the federal government, so systems implemented there must meet those requirements, according to Marchibroda.
Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano (D) in Sept. 2005 signed an executive order to support EHR adoption and created a steering committee that will work on efforts to expand EHR adoption statewide, according to the Times. In April, the steering committee submitted a proposal that included allowing physicians and medical professionals to access laboratory tests, prescriptions and other data.
Hospitals and physicians have notified state officials they do not want to be told what technology they should use. Health experts and officials warn that if hospitals choose their own programs it will be difficult to create a seamless statewide system where patients' information is universally accessible and the economic benefits will be more difficult to capture, the Times reports (Abelson, New York Times, 9/27).