The other day, I was rummaging through a musty box of baseball cards, looking for my autographed card signed by Matt Williams, the retired major league third baseman. To my chagrin, I couldn't find it among the meticulously organized binders filled tight with rows of plastic sleeves - an investment made by a little boy that turned out to be fool's gold. I must have 10,000 cards, but I couldn't find "Matty," the one I wanted to retrieve most of all.
These days, when I go to the doctor's office for a checkup and it's time to disclose what medications I'm taking and which rib I cracked on the grade-school pavement, it makes me feel like a helpless child again - like my baseball cards are strewn on the floor and I have no hope of finding the right one among thousands.
If you think about it, our health records really aren't organized much better: They're scattered among doctors, dentists, hospitals, pharmacies, university health clinics, urgent care facilities and wherever else we've sought care.
So I can only imagine how challenging it is to record an accurate health history for foster children who are passed among different foster parents and doctors. To continue the baseball analogy, Texas' new electronic Health Passport for approximately 30,000 foster children is a potential home run: a game changer that could improve care for an entire at-risk population in Texas and also serve as a nationwide model. Contributing Writer Patrick Michels writes deftly about the new program in our cover story, On the Record, Off the Charts.
Speaking of records, Michels digs even deeper in a detailed examination of improvements made to the Texas Election Administration Management (TEAM) system, a Web-based tool that houses voter registry records. TEAM will be put to the test during November's presidential election. State officials are confident the kinks have been worked out, though some counties are still waiting eagerly for all the features TEAM promised upon its implementation in 2007.
And Features Editor Andy Opsahl tackles the issue of telework, which is near and dear to all of us - particularly our wallets - as rising gas prices continue to dent disposable incomes. Many state and local governments will likely try to expand their telework programs to alleviate the pain at the pump. Opsahl's story explores several challenges and issues of some of Texas' telecommuting programs.
One final note: In case you're wondering, I'm not related to Matt Williams the baseball player. We share the same name, nothing more. Although it would be pretty cool if someday he would write a story for Texas Technology. I'll work on that.
Matt Williams was previously the news editor of Govtech.com, and is now a contributor to Government Technology and Public CIO magazines. He also previously served as the managing editor of TechWire, a sister publication to Government Technology.2