Governor John Lynch today directed the Citizens Health Initiative to develop a plan for improving the state's health information infrastructure to improve health care quality and affordability for New Hampshire citizens.

"Our goal is to keep New Hampshire one of the healthiest states in the nation, and make sure more of our citizens have access to quality health care, at a more affordable cost," Governor Lynch said. "Technology can help us reach that goal, by doing for the health care industry what it has done for virtually every other industry -- improve quality and efficiency, which cuts down on errors and reduce costs."

As the use of health care technology grows, there is a risk of numerous potentially conflicting standards for health information technology in the health care community, which may make it difficult to appropriately share patient information and jeopardize the health care improvements that can come from the greater use of electronic medical records.

"We want to make sure New Hampshire citizens get the maximum value from the increasing use of technology in health care," Governor Lynch said. "That is why I am asking the Citizens Health Initiative to bring people together now to make sure we develop common standards."

Lynch issued an Executive Order directing the Citizens Health Initiative to work with hospitals, providers and businesses to further develop the state's health information technology infrastructure in a way that will encourage common standards and coordinated efforts and ensure the privacy personal medial information is protected.

In 2005, Gov. Lynch created the Citizens Health Initiative Citizens Health Initiative bringing together lawmakers, state government officials, business leaders, health care providers, workers, and insurance experts to address the state's health care challenges.

This Executive Order directs the Citizens Health Initiative to convene a working groups comprised of various stakeholders from across the state. The strategic plan will be delivered to the Governor by Dec. 1.

"It is widely recognized that universal adoption of electronic medical records, and the ability to transfer important patient data among hospitals, physicians and clinicians offers great promise for improved quality of care, reduced medical errors, and improved operating efficiencies for the provider of care. It is critically important that the many organizations who are grappling with the complexity of adopting and implementing health information technology have a 'road map' to follow when making a commitment to invest in these important and complex systems," said Paul Spiess, co-chair of the Citizens Health Initiative. "I thank the Governor for his confidence in the ability of the Citizen's Health Initiative to organize and lead this effort, and look forward to presenting a strategic plan to the Governor and the Legislature this fall."

Through the work of the Citizens Health Initiative, New Hampshire has set the goal of being the first state in the nation to ensure all physicians have the ability to prescribe medications electronically, which will help lower costs and reduce errors.

The Citizens Health Initiative has worked with insurance companies to develop criteria for "pay-for-performance" standards putting the focus on preventative healthcare. The initiative also has a Web site that allows employers to get the information they need to make informed decisions about employee health benefits.