Government News
Govt. to Make Health Care More IT Friendly
Psychiatric News
Volume 39 Number 11 page 7-7

The health care industry lags behind other sectors of the economy in using information technology (IT), say IT experts.

Meanwhile, the Bush administration has set a goal of implementing a national electronic medical records (EMR) system within 10 years.

The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) recently convened a summit to hear from health IT leaders about options to meet this goal." Health information technology has the potential to greatly improve health care even as it yields huge savings," according to a press release from HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson. "A national health information network can save an estimated $140 billion annually in improved care and reduced duplication of medical tests."

Thompson announced several actions by HHS and other organizations to facilitate the adoption of a national EMR system.

To coordinate the government's activities and promote IT adoption by the private health sector, last month President Bush directed the creation of a new national health information technology office within HHS.

David Brailer, M.D., Ph.D., described by Thompson as "a national leader in harnessing health IT to promote safe, quality, and efficient health care," will head the new office.

One of Brailer's first tasks will be finding incentives in Medicare and other federally funded programs to encourage the private sector to adopt compatible EMR systems, according to Thompson's press release.

SNOMED CT can be downloaded from<http://umlsinfo.nlm.nih.gov>. Users must register online for a free UMLS license before downloading the data or requesting a copy on DVD. A press release on HHS efforts to promote IT are posted online at<www.hhs.gov/news/press/2004pres/20040519a.html>.

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