More posturing on the HIE front

I'm glad to hear, Gov. Corzine, that you're about to sign legislation that will push New Jersey further in the directing of creation statewide health information sharing. From where I sit, it seems obvious that the private sector is having a hard time creating healthy data sharing networks, no matter how well-intended and hard-working participants are. And the idea of a state data repository sounds intriguing--particularly if you intend it to be a true health data bank, an intermediary which protects the rights of all people attempting to access the data.

Still, let's face it, the legislation only seems to be a nudge in the direction of creating a true state RHIO, not a mandate or even a major step forward. Forming a committee with the power to discuss, investigate and develop a proposed solution sounds great, but without a stick (or honestly, much of a carrot for getting things done), I can't see much concrete progress being made. After all, as we've detailed here in FierceHealthIT time and again, the problems in getting a state's providers linked up are immense.

This is a story which is playing itself out in states across the U.S. You've got governors in several states, including Ohio, Tennessee and Kentucky, who seem seriously interested in creating state health sharing networks. But rather than cracking the whip, everybody seems to get nervous and fall back on vague discussions, speculative plans and study groups.

You know what? I'll be impressed when I see someone say, for example, "OK, providers, you'll be hooked up and sharing data by 2009, or lose Medicaid funding." That'll be impressive, and scary enough to galvanize at least some major players into action. I believe that it's going to take just that tough a stance.

How about you, readers? Am I being too pessimistic here, or are we looking at an indefinite holding pattern on HIEs unless someone imposes some real pain? - Anne

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