State CIOs Make Progress On Health IT

Jun 11, 2013 (12:06 PM EDT)

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10 Mobile Health Apps From Uncle Sam
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States must implement an enterprise-wide architecture for the exchange of health information, especially as state CIOs continue to take on different roles under healthcare reform. That was one of the takeaways from a new study by the National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO) and the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS).

State CIOs now play a crucial role in health IT strategies, oversight and governance, and, going forward, consolidation and optimization will become main priorities as they leverage IT across multiple initiatives.

The study -- which examined how state CIOs view the current IT landscape of state health initiatives -- received a 48% response rate, or 26 CIOs across U.S. states and territories. According to the findings, state CIOs have a variety of roles and responsibilities in areas such as Medicaid Management Information Systems (MMIS), Medicaid eligibility systems, data governance, identity management (IdM), state health insurance marketplaces, state-level health information exchanges (SLHIE), and shared services and collaboration.

[ HIEs are an important part of healthcare reform. Read Doctors Slowly Accept Health Information Exchanges. ]

The survey found that 71% of state CIOs said they have a significant role in SLHIE, which allows the sharing of health information electronically. "State CIOs are wearing many hats when it comes to state health IT projects," NASCIO executive director Doug Robinson said in a written statement. "The focus remains to find ways to collaborate and coordinate IT initiatives from a global or enterprise view."

Other key findings show that states appear to be outsourcing MMIS systems and data center functions. Seventy-eight percent of CIOs said their state will be finished with MMIS modernization by 2014, while 72% said their state will be implementing a new Medicaid eligibility system by 2014. The cost of these systems is estimated to be between $30 million and $154 million. When asked to name the least mature capability across states, 80% of executives who participated in the survey said they have no data governance structure in place.

States were evenly split with their plans to integrate Medicaid eligibility and enrollment systems with health insurance marketplaces (HIX), which allow individuals and employers to compare and evaluate health insurance plans. A full 94% of state CIOs said that 50% or less of the needed IT components for HIX have been completed. As for SLHIE, the majority of CIOs noted using a state-designated health information exchange; 69% of those exchanges are in production or actively exchanging data.

The last component of the study focused on shared services and collaboration. A full 96% of states are using shared services for healthcare initiatives. Shared services are used mostly for Medicaid eligibility modernization (86%), MMIS (55%), SLHIE (41%) and HIX (36%), while 32% are utilizing shared services for other health initiatives.