Whilst E-health in North America has been a hot topic in recent years, it was not until 2008 that a noticeable number of ideas started moving from the drawing board to implementation. For instance, in February 2008 AT&T announced that it was working with the state of Tennessee to develop the US’s first state-wide health information exchange.
The Tennessee eHealth network features two key AT&T patented solutions:
a network-based health care information system to enable the secure exchange of electronic health care data among legacy systems of health care providers; and
a virtual physician office system to enable the secure use of network based health care information systems and applications.
The solutions are expected to increase the quality of healthcare whilst decreasing the cost thereof.
The development of employee personal health record systems provides another illustration of the types of developments in E-health. For instance in October 2008 Wal-Mart became the first member of the Dossia employer-coalition to offer the consortium’s personal health record (PHR) system to employees.
Nonprofit organisation Dossia was launched in December 2006 by Wal-Mart, Intel and other large employers for the creation of a secure, Web-based infrastructure to provide patient-controlled, electronic PHRs to more than 2.5 million workers, retirees and their dependents. Many other companies, including Google and Revolution Health, continue to explore other wide-ranging e-Health initiatives where health and communications technology meet.
In June 2008 a House of Representatives subcommittee passed a bill to encourage the adoption of health information technology. The bill would provide incentives to doctors, hospitals, insurers and the government to use electronic formats for health information. The bill would require every US citizen to have electronic health records by 2014. The bill also establishes strict privacy rules and national standards for the handling of those records.
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