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Nevada’s State Health Information Technology Strategic and Operational Plan receives federal approval



Governor Sandoval Signs Enabling Legislation for Electronic Health Information Exchange

CARSON CITY, NV – Department of Health and Human Services Director (DHHS) Mike Willden announced today that the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) has approved Nevada’s State Health Information Technology Strategic and Operational Plan (State HIT Plan), developed with stimulus funds.  The State HIT Plan, available online at http://dhhs.nv.gov/Hit.htm, outlines how stimulus funds will also be used to establish Nevada’s statewide system for the electronic exchange of health information.  Total electronic management of health information and its secure exchange among and between health care consumers, providers and payers is expected to eventually improve health care quality, prevent medical errors, and reduce medical costs.

Director Willden also announced that Governor Brian Sandoval signed Senate Bill 43 (SB 43), recently passed by the Nevada Legislature.  The bill was submitted by DHHS and provides the framework for meeting the requirements of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act and implementing the State HIT Plan.  SB 43 designates the DHHS Director as the State HIT Authority, with the ability to adopt regulations and certify the health information exchanges (HIEs) wishing to participate in the statewide system.  The bill also includes provisions to safeguard protected health information contained in electronic health records (EHRs).

“Advancing the deployment of health information technology will not only improve the quality and efficiency of health care for Nevadans, it will also offer economic and workforce development opportunities,” said Governor Sandoval.  “Over the next 5 years, Nevada will require both private sector health information technology businesses and additional trained workforce to implement, service and maintain the hardware and software for the EHR and HIE  systems. This is another facet of the technology sector that can help diversify and strengthen the state’s economy.”

Nevada’s approved State HIT Plan includes coordination and collaboration with the state’s activities regarding the establishment of the state health insurance exchange, which is funded under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Enacted as part of the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), the HITECH Act authorized approximately $36 billion over 6 years for the advancement of health information technology nationwide.  Specifically, it expands the role of the states and territories in facilitating the adoption of electronic health records (EHRs) and the utilization of HIEs.  In February 2010, Nevada DHHS was awarded $6,133,426 in funding under a 4-year State HIE Cooperative Agreement with ONC to develop the State HIT Plan and establish a statewide system for HIE across health care systems, providers and payers.

During the HIT planning phase, Governor Jim Gibbons appointed the 20-member Nevada HIT Blue Ribbon Task Force to assist DHHS. The members represented a diverse group of HIT stakeholders (health care systems and providers, insurance and payers, Medicaid, other HITECH programs, public health, medical records, legal, pharmacy, Nevada System for Higher Education and consumers).  Meeting almost monthly between October 2009 and January 2011 and in accordance with Open Meeting Law, the Task Force provided feedback and recommendations which were incorporated into both the State HIT Plan and SB 43.

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