A New Jersey commission charged with finding a way to allocate limited public funds to an excessively needy hospital system called for the state to organize "a visionary information infrastructure to overcome information barriers and realize the potential of a 21st century healthcare system."
Citing failed attempts by the private sector to develop regional health information organizations, the New Jersey Commission on Rationalizing Health Care Resources recommended that the state step in and create a new commission charged with developing the framework and policies around the development of a regional health information system. Once developed, participation in the system should be mandatory for all providers, including physicians, the commission said.
The commission also recommended that the information system be based on standardized software and nomenclature and that it be transparent and easily accessible to a variety of users. It also should be managed by a public-private organization chartered and supported by the state, the commission said.
"In view of the decadelong failure, to this day, of the private sector to develop such an information infrastructure ... the State should take an active, leading role in the development of such a system, financing both the research and the development efforts to establish such a system," the commission said in a 300-plus page report.
The commission, headed by Princeton University healthcare economist Uwe Reinhardt, said its most important conclusion to emerge from its yearlong study on the financial health of New Jersey's healthcare system is that the state's hospitals "are truly in poor financial health." Lack of transparency of performance or cost, physician and hospital misalignment, lack of universal coverage, and underpayment by public payers were among the biggest culprits for New Jersey hospitals' sickly balance sheets, according to the commission.