Last week in Washington, David Brailer -- the national health information technology coordinator-- told a conference of over 1,000 attendees that the United States Department of Health and Human Services will form a technology leadership panel to explore what immediate steps the public and private sectors should take to spur the federal governments plan to advance health information technology. Over two months ago, President Bush announced the plan, which includes helping the private sector organize to reduce the risks of investing in electronic health records and stimulating community-based collaborations among providers using IT products certified as having a base level of desirable features.
Brailer said the government will give special attention to promoting health IT in rural and other underserved areas, for example, adapting the Defense Departments battlefield experience with remote operations to the needs of rural providers.
The Geisinger Health System – which provides healthcare services to approximately two million people over 38 primarily rural counties of Pennsylvania – already has been doing that with “MyGeisinger.” The optional Internet application for patients enables them to have secure web-based access to portions of their electronic medical records – also allowing them a secure communications channel with medical staff for non-urgent messages. This service, which was profiled in The Wall Street Journal and Modern Healthcare, is available to patients over age 17 at 42 Geisinger physicians’ offices.
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