Bill to create electronic health network passes

The Courier-Journal FRANKFORT, Ky. Kentucky will soon begin creating a statewide electronic health network allowing doctors, hospitals and pharmacies to share medical information about patients via computer.
The House passed Senate Bill2 97-0 yesterday, sending it to Gov. Ernie Fletcher, who has endorsed the legislation.
Such a network would take three to five years to develop.
The sponsor, Sen. Daniel Mongiardo, D-Hazard, said Kentucky will be the first state to move toward what President Bush has designated a national priority.
Under the bill, the state will begin developing a secure, “paperless” network that – with a patient’s permission – will allow health-care providers to share the patient’s medical information electronically.
Such a system will speed transmission of information, reduce errors and result in better care for patients, so-called “e-health bill” for several years.
The bill succeeded this year after Mongiardo gained support from Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville.
The bill also was backed by top officials at the University of Louisville and the University of Kentucky.
Mongiardo said he was delighted with yesterday’s passage.
“I think we can make Kentucky the crossroads where health care, information technology and research meet,” he said.
Dr. James Holsinger, secretary of Health and Family Services and the state’s top medical official, said, “I believe this is a project whose time has come.”
SB2 authorizes a “Kentucky Healthcare Infrastructure Authority” to begin planning the network, with UK and UofL designated to lead the effort.
It also authorizes creating a board to oversee the work and conduct pilot projects.
The Senate has included $360,000 as start-up money, mostly to authorize two endowed chairs – one at UK and one at UofL – for experts to help create the system.
But no other money is included in the budget.
One of the goals of the authority would be to raise federal and private funds.
Most health providers already are computerizing their operations, so the state’s challenge will be to find a common system to use to share information, said Dr. Michael Karpf, UK executive vice president for health affairs.
UofL and UK officials who helped develop the legislation said they expect federal money to be available to pay for pilot projects.
Part of the move to e-health is being driven by the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, better known as HIPAA, said Dr. Robert Esterhay, a UofL professor who is researching electronic health networks.
Federal authorities are promoting e-health as more efficient and more secure, he said.
Any system Kentucky creates would have to conform to HIPAA patient-privacy rules, Esterhay said. SENATE BILL 2 Sponsor: Sen. Daniel Mongiardo, D-Hazard (daniel.mongiardo@lrc.ky.gov)
Copyright (c) The Courier-Journal. All rights reserved. Reproduced with the permission of Gannett Co., Inc. by NewsBank, inc.

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