North Carolina’s Health IT strategy in full swing

North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue signed an executive order last week to consolidate the state’s Health IT recovery efforts. According to Executive Order 19, the Health and Wellness Trust Fund Commission (HWTF) is the state-designated entity responsible for coordinating North Carolina’s Health IT strategy.

“By integrating information technology into our health care system we can improve the quality and efficiency of care, and make sure North Carolinians get the right care at the right place, at the right time.” Gov. Perdue said in a statement.

Members of the public, private and non-profit sectors will be chosen by the Governor, along with the HWTF Chair, to serve on the newly created North Carolina Health Information Technology Collaborative. Dr. Chuck Willson, who has served on the HWTF since 2001, was recently elected as the HWTF’s new chairman.

The NC HIT Collaborative is meant to be the state’s point-organization for trying to secure as much of the nearly $19 billion in Recovery Act funding for health IT as possible. Stuart James, chief information officer of the University Health System of Eastern Carolina, was appointed by Gov. Perdue to serve as HWTF commission member and chair of the NC HIT Collaborative.

The HIT Collaborative stems from the North Carolina Health Information Technology Strategic Planning Task Force to develop a set of strategic guidelines by which the state could apply for roughly $2 billion, of the $19 billion, in Recovery Act funding appropriated from the Office of the National Coordinator (ONC). By creating the HIT Collaborative, North Carolina is one step closer in meeting the requirements as stated in the National HIT Strategic Plan to apply for the ONC portion of the stimulus money.

According to a letter by Steven Cline, Deputy State Health Director and Chair of the HIT Task Force, “Expanded use of HIT has the potential to transform healthcare…but it will require a concerted effort on the part of providers, health facilities, health plans, consumers and state leaders.”

On June 24, 2009 the HIT Task Force issued a report outlining the state’s strategy, which called for the immediate establishment of the NC HIT Coordinating Committee, the NC HIT Collaborative, “to serve as a single, high level, highly-visible entity to govern further HIT development for North Carolina and to guide the application for federal HIT stimulus funds.”

Among some of the other key guiding principles outline in the Task Force’s report was the need for the system to be consumer-oriented, privacy and security guaranteed, it must support individual as well as population health, and the system must be inclusive, comprehensive and collaborative to achieve coordinated and integrated care.

“I am confident that the Health & Wellness Trust Fund’s expertise, and North Carolina’s status as a national leader in the health IT movement, will allow our state to receive a significant amount of recovery dollars,” Gov. Perdue said.

To read the HIT Task Force plan, (.pdf) click here.

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