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By David Martin

Governor Patrick and his health information technology team just wrapped up the Governor's 2nd annual health IT conference at the DCU Center in Worcester. The conference, “Health Information Technology: Improving Health Care and the Economy,” featured a keynote address by the Governor, in which he highlighted Massachusetts’ strengths in technology and health care: we are home to some of the world’s best health technology companies and best hospitals, and the combination makes Massachusetts a leader in developing health IT solutions for the nation.

The conference also featured Dr. David Blumenthal, who just stepped down as the head of the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONCHIT) and has returned to Harvard Medical School as a professor. He spoke about the accomplishments of ONCHIT during his tenure there and the challenges that remain. Dr. Blumenthal emphasized that we are well on our way to creating a national HIT system that will improve patient care and lower costs but there is much more work to do.

Dr. Sachin Jain, senior advisor to Don Berwick, the administrator of Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, concluded the first day of the conference by talking about how transforming the health care payment and delivery system will both require embracing health IT and fostering its adoption. Paying physicians for providing coordinated, integrated care requires both a robust system of Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and a health information exchange (HIE) network so that providers can communicate and share information about patients to coordinate care.

The conference was attended by more than 300 people. Beyond the high-profile guest speakers, the two-day conference included breakout sessions throughout both days of the conference that focused on the challenges faced in the effort to implement health IT nationally.

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David Martin is director of health care policy and strategy for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts 

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