In the coming years, State CIOs will be asked to perform a variety of health IT tasks, particularly in the implementation of health benefit exchanges (HBEs), according to a publication released on Thursday, June 2, by the National Association of Chief Information Officers (NASCIO).

The report, On the Fence: IT Implications of the Health Benefit Exchanges, discusses the responsibilities and challenges facing CIOs charged with creating and deploying HBEs — one-stop shops where individuals can more easily find a health insurance plan.

CIOs nationwide are under the microscope as they must identify technology gaps that need to be filled and assess existing legacy systems that may support the exchanges and the establishment of multi-state collaborations.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (PPACA) requires each state to create and offer an HBE by 2014. The spotlight is on states and their technology professionals to deliver a system that meets both citizen and governmental needs.

While states continue to face fiscal challenges in down economic times, PPACA provided $2.8 billion in initial funding to states to help build HBEs, expand Medicaid eligibility and various other efforts.

“Given the short timeframe for implementation of the Health Benefit Exchanges, it is critical that state CIOs work together to share expertise and explore shared solutions to maximize efficiencies and minimize costs,” stated Lisa Feldner, North Dakota’s CIO and co-chair for the NASCIO Healthcare Working Group, in a press release.

The publication also outlines the steps necessary to create the technical architecture needed for online HBEs. In addition, the report highlights the work of Utah and Massachusetts, the states already running HBEs, and Wisconsin and Oregon as examples of model states.

A copy of the report is available on NASCIO’s website.