Sacramento, Calif. - Industry professionals and policymakers gathered in June to discuss California's health-care system and how it can be measured and improved. IT took a prominent place at the State of Our Health Forum.

Dr. David Brailer, who from 2004 to 2006 served as the U.S. Health and Human Services Department's national health IT coordinator, spoke about health IT's potential to improve care. Brailer said electronic health records are inevitable. The bigger issue that still must be addressed is interoperability. In a discussion following Brailer's speech, at least one panel member viewed interoperability as achievable while another looked to the next challenge: avoiding data overload for caregivers.

Among other changes, Brailer predicts technology will conjure a more empowered consumer. Brailer said health-care professionals will find themselves pushed aside by search engines, as patients research their options and demand more say in their care. Panel members agreed that providers would have to adjust to a more informed and empowered patient.

- Emily Montandon, associate editor

Hot Topic: Climate Change

Toronto - Climate change was a popular topic of discussion at the World Conference on Disaster Management in mid-June.

Northrop Grumman's Karen Scott-Martinet asked, "What if climate change is not 'disaster as usual?' What are the tipping points if some things happen quickly, and can we adjust?"

Scott-Martinet, an integrated systems sector contingency planner for the defense contractor, outlined several drastic measures humans could take to cope with climate change:

· implanting devices that will help them tolerate climate change;

· wearing suits that regulate body function;

· downloading themselves into computers for a virtual existence;

· turning entirely to engineered food products; and

· building spaceships and leaving Earth.

- Jim McKay, justice and public safety editor

Support for EMRs

San Francisco - Accenture hosted in June the last of three town hall meetings here to gauge citizen viewpoints on health-care challenges and solutions. The gatherings - also held in Miami and Detroit - let Accenture and its partner, The Council for Excellence in Government, test citizen receptivity to a national electronic medical record (EMR) system. The possibility of U.S. government-supported universal health coverage could make EMR infrastructure critical to managing such a massive, complex system.

Meeting attendees were surprisingly open to EMR, said Ken Dineen, global managing director of Accenture's health industry practice. The company's poll showed 79 percent support for EMRs among Miami citizens, 59 percent in Detroit and 74 percent in San Francisco. Privacy and security concerns about such a system are common objections.

- Andy Opsahl, Features Editor

Govtech.com Hot List

Here are the 10 most popular stories on Govtech.com from June 2, 2008 to July 2, 2008.

1. Cloud Computing, Microsoft Surface and Other Disruptive Technologies

Innovative approaches reshape interfaces, infrastructure and intelligence.

2. 911 Systems Upgrade to Accept Text Messages and Video

IP-based networks help call centers move beyond voice communications.

3. Incident Management Team Helps Hospitals Respond to Disasters

South Dakota hospital system creates team of experts to deploy at affected locations.

4. New York State Changes Rules on Use of Consultants by State Agencies

Governor orders new standards and study of consultant use by state agencies.

5. Five IT Security Trends to Watch

CIOs

Andy Opsahl  |  Features Editor
Jim McKay, Editor  |  Editor