Health Secretary Calls on Employers to Support IT

By M.L. Baker  |  Posted 11-28-2006
Secretary of Health and Human Services Mike Leavitt is asking U.S. employers to pressure the health care industry so that doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and clinical laboratories will get connected electronically.

Right now, patients, providers and payers do not have the information they need to seek out the best-quality care at the most affordable price, Leavitt said.

For more on related topics, see the Health Care Information Technology Special Report

Such information could make for a healthier nation and keep down health care costs. Employers who purchase health insurance for their workers should encourage systems that make the information available, he said.

The request came at a national meeting of employers, where Leavitt asked companies to sign a statement of support for four "cornerstones" that would create incentives for more efficient spending and provide more information to patients, providers and payers about health care costs and quality.

Companies that sign the statement would not make a legally binding commitment, according to an HHS Web site that describes the initiative. Instead, the signature would indicate employers' "intent to make a good faith effort to use their purchasing power to advance interoperable health IT, quality and cost or price transparency, and incentives for providers and consumers, such as pay-for-performance and consumer-directed health plans."

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