Baton Rouge – The Louisiana Department of Health announced today Gov. Bobby Jindal’s budget priority for improving health care through investment in health information technology.  The new funding supports several statewide initiatives toward the goal of ensuring every Louisianan has a privacy-protected electronic medical record, and ensuring health care providers have access to relevant information they need to provide the best quality health care. 

“One of the primary goals of the Jindal Administration is the measurable improvement of health outcomes,” said LDH Secretary Alan Levine. “Gov. Jindal’s budget reflects this by adding $18.6 million in the proposed Executive Budget for health information technology initiatives.  This funding will improve the opportunity for more widespread adoption of technology that can reduce medical errors, streamline the processing of information and improve the management of chronic diseases.”

The Governor’s budget includes:

• $4 million toward the investment in the infrastructure for the development of the statewide Louisiana Health Information Exchange.  This system will provide the hardware and systems to allow the interoperability of health care information between multitudes of providers. 
• $11.1 million for the Louisiana Rural Health Information Exchange.  As the state embarks upon ensuring providers can communicate electronically, it is also important our many rural hospitals have the digital information infrastructure to participate.  This funding will allow more rural hospitals to acquire digital technology, opening the gateway for telemedicine and allowing rural providers to participate in the information exchange.

 $3.5 million to provide financial incentives to physicians who utilize recognized electronic medical record software in their practices. 

In addition to the funding proposed in the new Executive Budget, LDH received, last December, a federal grant providing $15.9 million to support some of the cost associated with establishing a broadband health care network for Louisiana’s rural and urban hospitals. This initiative will facilitate the use of electronic medical records, telemedicine applications and telehealth systems that will connect multiple health care providers to both the medically underserved and a number of government research institutions.

Another grant received last year ($1.5 million) is now being used to establish the Pointe Coupee Parish Health Information Technology Partnership, which will link 11 rural health care providers in the Pointe Coupee area.  This improved network is expected to raise the quality of care in this region, which is considered a medically underserved area and has been designated as a health care shortage area for primary care, mental health and dental care.

 “The steps we are taking toward increased adoption of health information technology will have a positive impact on so many people,” said Levine.  “Louisiana is among only 12 states adopting this kind of technology in the country, and we’re proud to be a trailblazer on the path to medical advancement.”