TRENTON – A bill sponsored by Senators Joseph F. Vitale and Barbara Buono which would establish a Statewide health information technology plan was approved by the Senate today by a vote of 35-0.
“New Jersey must constantly adapt to the times, and incorporate technology which ensures a better health care experience for its citizens,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “By creating a statewide, secure information database for patients’ medical history, we can ensure a quicker healthcare response for patients and accurate, updated record access for doctors from High Point to Cape May. A healthcare IT plan will revolutionize how New Jersey handles medical information, and put a greater emphasis on actual health care, rather than mindless paperwork.”
“With current trends in technology, there is no reason why patients must fill out a complete medical history at every point of care in New Jersey,” said Senator Buono, D-Middlesex, a member of the Senate Health panel. “All that paperwork does is delay the health care process, and pose a potential security risk from identity thieves. A secure network of medical information will streamline the process, and protect medical records from abuse and misuse.”
The bill, a Senate Committee Substitute for S-2728, known as the “New Jersey Health Information Technology Development, Implementation and Deployment Act,” would create a statewide IT infrastructure for the sharing of medical records among health care professionals. The bill would establish the Office for the Development of Electronic Health Information Technology (e-HIT) within the Department of Banking and Insurance, and charge the Office with establishing and maintaining a secure medical information infrastructure. The bill would also establish the New Jersey Health Information Technology Commission to approve any statewide health information technology plan and make annual reports to the Legislature and Governor on the issues facing the development and deployment of the Statewide medical records infrastructure.
“In cases of Statewide emergency or large-scale disaster, accessible, up-to-date medical records could make the difference in saving the most lives possible,” said Senator Buono. “We want our first responders to have drug allergy information, family medical history, or any other pertinent data on a patient at their fingertips. A statewide patient information database will make that a reality, and ensure that, even in the chaos of a disaster area, health care workers will have the necessary background information to do all they can to help.”
“By having a single clearinghouse for patients’ medical information, we will be able to cut down on medical errors stemming from incomplete or incorrect background data,” said Senator Vitale. “Doctors base so many medical decisions on the charts patients fill out before their first visit, and every time those patients fill out a new chart, it’s another chance to make a mistake which will impact on their healthcare experience. By having a secure, Statewide database, we can ensure doctors and other healthcare workers have the right information, the first time, to provide the best care possible.”
The bill now heads to the Assembly for consideration of Senate amendments. It was approved by a vote of 73-7 by the Assembly in June.