Healthcare organizations said they needed more federal money and more federal leadership to speed computerization of the industry at a House Ways and Means health subcommittee hearing Thursday on information technology. Groups also called for more standards to ensure the interoperability of healthcare information systems and legal protections for sharing safety and quality data. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said debate has evolved from the role of IT in healthcare to what government can do to hasten its adoption. A report on the progress of President Bush's healthcare IT strategic plan is due July 21 from the nation's new healthcare IT czar, David Brailer.
In other federal news, HHS announced $849 million in awards to states, territories and metropolitan areas to better prepare the public health system and providers for public health emergencies such as bioterrorism or a disease outbreak. The money is in addition to $498 million released earlier this month to strengthen hospital preparedness and improve response capacity. The metropolitan areas receiving funds in the latest round of awards are Chicago, Los Angeles, New York and Washington. -- by Tony Fong