State chief information officers (CIOs) must act quickly but carefully to take advantage of $2 billion in grants made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for improving health information technology (health IT), according to a report from the Lexington, Ky.-based National Association of State Chief Information Officers (NASCIO). "HITECH in the States: Action List for State CIOs" lists ways state CIOs can improve health information exchange (HIE) using ARRA funding.

The brief draws its name from the segment of ARRA that outlines new requirements and allocates funding for health IT efforts, which is commonly known as the HITECH Act. The act also increases oversight responsibilities for states in the development of statewide HIE, and the brief says CIOs can expedite that process by: acting as a convener of IT stakeholders in the enterprise; assessing the state's existing infrastructure; and determining the state's readiness to support large-scale HIE. "State CIOs are key stakeholders within state health information exchange," said Otto Doll, CIO of South Dakota and 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."

State CIOs can improve HIE through planning, governance, financing/sustainability and policy, according to the brief. "The health community sees the necessity for modernizing healthcare through information technology," Doll continues, "now CIOs must be involved to properly align IT to achieve administrative efficiency and improved quality of service in healthcare."

Download "HITECH in the States" from NASCIO's Web site.