Pennsylvania governor orders state health data exchange creation

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Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell signed an executive order Thursday to create the Pennsylvania Health Information Exchange (PHIX), which will provide the IT architecture necessary to support interoperable EHRs and electronic prescribing across the state.

The initiative is part of the Governor's Prescription for Pennsylvania healthcare reform plan, according to the governor’s office.

The PHIX will allow physicians, hospitals, pharmacies and other authorized healthcare providers to share patient data captured at the point of care. "By offering healthcare providers the ability to electronically share patient information, we will be able to improve patient care and safety and reduce healthcare costs that are a result of today's independent information technology systems,” Rendell said.

In addition, the governor’s office said the PHIX aims to reduce duplicative tests and increase physicians' ability to access patients' prescriptions, laboratory tests, radiology exams and hospital discharge notes.

"Giving clinicians access to data about their patients' care by other providers will result in fewer medical errors and better continuity of care. Less time will be wasted waiting for patient's charts and for processing referrals. And, reporting of vital statistics and diseases will be more efficient and complete,” Rendell said.

The executive order also establishes an advisory council made up of representatives from state agencies, legislators, insurers, physicians, hospital executives, pharmaceutical organizations and nurses who will advise on IT strategies and issues.