Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Health chief prods for new system

Governors make no commitments

NEW ORLEANS - The medical problems encountered by Hurricane Katrina evacuees should prompt health care providers to stop storing patient data on paper and instead use electronic systems that can be accessed around the country, the nation's top health official said Monday.

Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt told four governors attending the annual conference of the Southern Governors' Association they could help spur such a change by denying state contracts to health care companies that resist using federally approved software standards in the push to store patient data in an electronic form.

Use of those standards is key to ensuring that health care providers' computer systems are compatible, he said. Beginning this fall, Leavitt said, federal agencies will not deal with companies that resist using those standards.

"It'll be a condition of doing business with us," he said.


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