Electronic health records advanced as a high-profile issue on two fronts. A standards group called Health Level 7 unveiled a consensus document defining the essential functions of such systems. Also, HHS named David Brailer, a senior fellow at the Health Technology Center in San Francisco, to fill a newly created position to coordinate the nation's healthcare IT efforts. Health Level 7 said it had obtained overwhelming industry approval of a draft model for electronic health records that will be tested over a two-year period. The model, which now contains 130 identified functions, would then become an officially accredited standard. At an IT summit of prominent healthcare representatives in Washington, HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson announced Brailer's appointment as national health information technology coordinator. President Bush created the position earlier this month to help achieve his goal of ensuring every American has an electronic health record in 10 years. Brailer served for 10 years as chairman and chief executive officer of CareScience, a Philadelphia company that developed software for detecting and resolving clinical problems in hospitals. He also was instrumental in developing and overseeing a regional health information coordination project in Santa Barbara County, Calif.
Battista out in R.I.
Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Rhode Island ousted Ronald Battista, president and chief executive officer, amid public outrage over reports of lavish executive perks, ballooning reserves, soaring premiums and skimpy reimbursements. Chief Operating Officer James Purcell was named acting president while the not-for-profit insurer conducts a national search for Battista's replacement. Battista, 55, is credited with turning around the insurer, but recently the company has come under pressure to reform its practices. Earlier this week, board members made several concessions to legislators, including agreeing to forgo their annual pay. Last month provider representatives publicly called for Battista's ouster.
Reed picked to lead AUPHA
The Association of University Programs in Health Administration, Arlington, Va., named Lydia Reed, its vice president and chief operating officer for the past five years, to replace Jeptha Dalston as president and chief executive officer when he retires June 30. Before joining the association in 1996 as director of development, Reed was a development professional with the American Red Cross.
VA finalizes 20-year plan
The Veterans Affairs Department finalized a plan for adjusting to new demand patterns and will spend $1 billion annually for several years implementing it. The VA said it would close hospitals in Brecksville, Ohio; Gulfport, Miss., and Pittsburgh; it also will transfer all but long-term-care services out of its Livermore, Calif., hospital. The 20-year plan calls for new hospitals in Las Vegas and Orlando, Fla., a replacement facility in Denver and 156 new outpatient clinics nationwide. The hospitals slated for closure must have an implementation plan by September. The changes are expected to increase enrollment in the VA's healthcare network to 33% of eligible veterans by 2022 from 28% today.