Health & Human Services

Reform Storm: Governors Feel the Heat on Health IT

The Bush administration is pushing health providers to get up to speed on information technology, and it wants states to help. President Bush issued an executive order in August directing federal agencies to demand that health vendors step up their use of IT to make quality and price information more transparent, and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt has been lobbying governors to do likewise.
by | October 2006

The Bush administration is pushing health providers to get up to speed on information technology, and it wants states to help. President Bush issued an executive order in August directing federal agencies to demand that health vendors step up their use of IT to make quality and price information more transparent, and U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt has been lobbying governors to do likewise.

The administration seeks to use government's power as a major purchaser of health coverage to promote sharing of information about quality of care, as well as the prices paid to doctors and hospitals. That way, employees will be able to comparison shop. "People don't have a clue how much they pay," Leavitt said at a National Governors Association meeting, "and the reality is they don't know whether it's any good."

Leavitt has been lobbying governors and Fortune 100 company executives to push providers and insurers to abide by quality and IT standards that are being developed by independent commissions. He estimates that by the end of the year, "we'll at least have the capacity to make it work."

Leavitt's message is finding a receptive audience among governors worried both about health care costs and the medical profession's resistance to technology. At least 10 have issued executive orders requesting the development of health IT strategies. Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty, for example, announced a new program to give performance bonuses to providers who meet quality standards. Pawlenty believes this will eventually save the state and insurers $153 million per year.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. You can enter an anonymous Display Name or connect to a social profile.

More from Health & Human Services