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Massachusetts health care — wonky, with a healthy dose of reality

Mass Health Information Technology Council - Mini Meeting, Maxi Agenda

Mass Health Information Technology Council - Mini Meeting, Maxi Agenda

March 13, 2009

Wednesday's meeting of the Mass Health Information Technology Council was brief and to the point -- the Council has to quickly integrate the e-health requirements in Chapter 305, the cost containment bill Massachusetts passed last year, with the e-health provisions in the federal stimulus bill -- ARRA, or the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act -- to make sure that Massachusetts gets the biggest bang for its e-health buck.

Over the next two months, the Council will hold a series of stakeholder meetings to elicit comments and feedback from various groups about electronic health records. HCFA will attend these meetings and may convene an e-Health Records 101 educational opportunity to raise awareness about the potential for patient empowerment as well as the challenges involved in connecting health records electronically.

If done well, an interconnected system of electronic health records can go far in eliminating the silos in our current fragmented system. Can you imagine having access to your complete health record? Or being able to communicate with your healthcare provider by secure e-mail, or setting up or changing your doctors' appointments on line? Or knowing that you won’t be prescribed conflicting prescriptions because your provider has access to your prescription history? The possibilities for quality and safety improvement and cost savings are huge, but the potential risks and challenges are also enormous, from concerns around privacy to less face time with your provider, there are many issues that have to be worked through.

Health Care For All urges interested consumers to attend the Mass HIT Council meetings, and we will let you know when we schedule e-health meetings here. We need consumers asking questions, offering ideas, and learning about the possibilities available through this initiative. There is ample funding available to make the e-health initiative truly transformational. I will be working hard to make sure that consumer voices are at the decision-making tables, and I challenge anyone who is interested in learning more to let me know.

Secretary Bigby and the Information Technology Council are committed to a transparent and inclusive process, so please hop aboard; the e-train is leaving the station!

Lisa Fenichel