Governor's Citizen's Health Initiative, UNH, Receive $350,000 Grant

From the Office of Governor John Lynch

CONCORD - Gov. John Lynch's Citizen's Health Initiative, in partnership with the University of New Hampshire, has won a $350,000 grant to support its effort to create a statewide electronic medial record system.

The grant is from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality within the US Department of Health and Human Services. It will help New Hampshire assess how electronic medical records can be used to improve health care quality and control costs, and how an electronic medical record system can be implemented in New Hampshire and nationally while protecting the privacy and security of health care information.

"Nationally, the health care system conducts 30 billion transactions each year - and does 90 percent of those transactions by mail, phone or fax. The average Medicare beneficiary will see 6.4 different providers every year. And each year, there are as many as 98,000 deaths nationally as a result of medical error," Gov. Lynch said.

"Greater use of technology can help us make the health care system more efficient, by reducing paperwork costs and duplication services. More importantly, it can help improve quality by allowing health care providers to better track whether they are meeting the best care standards for chronic illnesses and by giving providers more timely access to information about a patient's health history," Gov. Lynch said.

"Developing electronic medical records must be done in a way that ensures patient confidentiality and privacy come first. This grant will help us address those issues," Gov. Lynch said.

Through the grant, UNH will work with the Franklin Pierce Law, Institute for Health, Law and Ethics, as well as the John Snow Institute to integrate expert and consumer input, and consider security and privacy issues with electronic medical records.

The Grant specifies that the Finance and Information Team of the Citizen's Health Initiative, which the Governor created last fall, will serve as the Advisory Council to this effort.

Gov. Lynch created the Citizen Health Initiative to bring together health care consumers, providers, business leaders, workers, insurance experts and elected officials to focus on long-term solutions to New Hampshire's health care challenges.

"My goal is that 10 years from now, New Hampshire will still be one of the healthiest states in the nation, more of our citizens will have access to quality health care, and the growth in health care costs will be in line with economic growth," Gov. Lynch said. "I created the Citizens Health Initiative to help turn that vision into reality."

The Citizens Health Initiative is moving forward on three important fronts: developing criteria to evaluate and monitor the quality of care, including working to develop standardized "pay for performance" criteria; reducing medical errors and duplication through electronic medical records; and making it easier for people to get information about quality and costs.

One of the first major accomplishments of the Citizen's Health Initiative was the creation of New Hampshire Connects for Health. That effort, housed at UNH and supported by the Endowment for Health and the major insurance carriers of the State, is conducting a project that will determine the extent of health information technology use in the state today, and create a roadmap for improving those systems to promote the confidential and effective exchange of information among providers and their patients.