Thursday, February 10, 2005

Governor Manchin's State of State Mentions WV Electronic Health Record Initiative

Governor Joe Manchin gave his state of the state address to the West Virginia Legislature on Wednesday night. During the state of the state Governor Manchin highlighted the need for West Virginia to lead the way in the creation of a modern electronic health information system.

I was excited to see Governor Manchin announce this initiative and believe that our state could greately benefit by such an initiative and position itself at the forefront of the conversion of health information from paper to electronic.

Due to the size of the state, our health status (or the lack thereof) and the large portion of the public insured through goverrnmental payors (Medicare, Medicaid, PEIA, etc.) I think our state's citizens and health care providers would greatly benefit by a comprehensive and coordinated electronic health record initiative. We could certainly become a testing ground and model state for such a federal/state pilot project. These efforts would certainly complement West Virginia's growing biometric industry. Due to the evolution and sophistication of the medical and health fields, the rise of specialties upon specialties, the mobility of the public and the disjointed nature that the health care industry maintains health information we have lost a continuity of health information. Without continuity and organization of all of the information -- the usefulness of the information is lost. What I call the "country doctor" effect has been lost. In more simplier times, health information in West Virginia was locally stored at your family's physician office and your physician not only knew your medical history but also the history of your family, your parents, grandparents, etc. He or she was the one that delivered you, treated you as an adolescent, treated your children and grandchildren. If developed correctly I think an integrated health information system could bring much of this inforamtion back to the health care professionals who can then use this information not only to provide better treatment to you but also to treat others with similar symptoms, diagnosis, etc.

In addition, Governor Manchin introduced Dr. David Brailer, the National Coordinator of Health and Information Technology, and his mother Grace Brailer, who is a member of the board of directors at Preston Memorial Hospital. Although I have read numerous article and heard Dr. Brailer speak at some national health information conferences, I was not aware that he was a West Virginia native. Dr. Brailer grew up in Kingwood, West Virginia where his mother still lives and graduated from West Virginia University. If you want to find out more about the national Health IT Strategic Framework you may want to review the "The Decade of Health Information Technology: Delivering Consumer-centric and Information-rich Health Care." Here is an exective summary of the framework.

Below is an excerpt from the written text of Governor Manchin's state of the state address where Governor Manchin announced his administration's goal thatWest Virginia become a model state and lead the way in the creation of a more integrated health information system.

". . . We also need to begin the process of modernizing West Virginia’s health care system and use the technology that already exists within our high tech consortium and biometrics industry to put critical health care information in the hands of doctors and caregivers at the time they need it most — when care is delivered. Why is it so easy to access our bank accounts using ATMs worldwide but we have trouble moving medical records from one health care provider to another?

Last year, the federal government laid out a plan to ensure that most Americans have personal electronic health records within 10 years. To help do this, they appointed a National Coordinator for Health and Information Technology, Dr. David Brailer. We are honored to have Dr. Brailer and his mother Grace with us tonight.

I believe that West Virginia can serve as a model for health records partnerships that will pave the way for other states. We will lead the nation in making health care information more readily available to consumers so that they can make not only informed choices about their doctors and treatment options but also become more involved and responsible in their own care.
Dr. Brailer, thank you for being here tonight. We look forward to working with you. By the way, did I mention that Dr. Brailer is a native West Virginian and a graduate of WVU and his mom still lives in Kingwood? We should all be very proud. . ."

To read the full text of Governor Manchin's state of the state address you can find it at the Charleston Gazette in two parts: part one and part two. The Charleston Gazette also published an article in its online edition highlighting Governor Manchin's state of the state address. If you want to hear the state of the state you can listen to the webcast.

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