Florida State Rep. Gayle Harrell is a self-proclaimed fiscal conservative. Yet she appreciates the need for governmental funding of health data exchanges and EHRs. Speaking at the HIMSS HIE Symposium, Harrell said the nation must pay close attention to “spending the money wisely” when it comes to promoting clinical connectivity. Citing the approximately $564 million allocated in federal grants to support data exchanges, Harrell said “As a fiscal conservative, the amount blows my mind. But it’s not enough. The states must also contribute.”

In addition to her elected role in the Florida State House of Representatives, Harrell serves as a member of the federal HIT policy committee, which advises on the substance of the meaningful use program.

Harrell noted that forthcoming Stage 2 meaningful use criteria have toned down earlier expectations for data exchange. “Stage 2 recommendations for HIE are very minimal,” she said. “The states are not ready.” Under the current iteration of the stage two requirements, a provider would only need to exchange data with one external provider in their referral network, Harrell said.

Harrell is bullish on clinical I.T. in part because of ROI the state has witnessed by encouraging physicians to electronically prescribe and use the state formulary for Medicaid patients. Florida has saved about $6 million a month on drug costs by distributing PDAs to top prescribing physicians who link to the formulary through the devices, she noted.


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