"The HITECH Act effectively blended health policy with technology policy, and state CIOs are uniquely positioned to help shape these policies in the future to align with their state's enterprise architecture." -- South Dakota CIO Otto Doll (pictured) head of NASCIO's Health IT Working Group.

Both President Obama and former President Bush endorsed the computerization of health records as a way to reduce errors and save lives. Through both administrations, state CIOs were involved in state-level Health IT efforts. Now, with part of the ARRA funds allocated to health IT through the HITECH Act, the game has changed.

As pointed out by the National Association of State CIOs (NASCIO) money is now available for health IT but with strings attached, and state CIOs have a role to play in the new federal initiatives. "The passage of the HITECH Act essentially merged health policy with technology policy across state government and state CIOs must play a key role in HIE development and implementation," says NASCIO's new publication HITECH in the States: Action List for State CIOs.

CIOs can have a significant impact on health IT initiatives, says the publication, by:

  • Acting as a convener of IT stakeholders in the enterprise
  • Assessing the state's existing infrastructure
  • Determining the state's readiness to support large-scale HIE. 

"State CIOs are key stakeholders within state health information exchange," said South Dakota CIO Otto Doll, chair of NASCIO's Health IT Working Group. "The HITECH Act effectively blended health policy with technology policy, and state CIOs are uniquely positioned to help shape these policies in the future to align with their state's enterprise architecture. The health community sees the necessity for modernizing healthcare through information technology," said Doll. "Now CIOs must be involved to properly align IT to achieve administrative efficiency and improved quality of service in healthcare."