During their annual State of the State addresses, U.S. governors present policy successes and key proposals to their respective state legislatures. These addresses highlight model practices and success stories at the state level for other states to learn from as well as priorities and advocacy opportunities for the coming year. After reviewing the National Academy for State Health Policy analysis of health-related content within these addresses, HIMSS has identified the following health IT-related themes.
Two of the most frequently mentioned health topics across states focused on behavioral health and the opioid epidemic. Health IT topics related to behavioral health focused on reducing reporting requirements to address clinician burden, implementing a telehealth program in schools, and urging improved coordination between state agencies and sectors focused on behavioral health.
Governors recognize the need for investment to address the opioid epidemic despite the fact that rates of misuse are decreasing in some states. They addressed the need for improving access to prevention and treatment and reducing unnecessary prescriptions. For example, Delaware created the country’s first Overdose System of Care which helped administer over 3,000 doses of Naloxone in 2018. The governors of Delaware and Indiana mention the need for improved data sharing to support care coordination around prescribing opioids. HIMSS has been working over the last year to educate and convene states on the role and value of health information and technology to address the opioid crisis.
Ten governors mentioned Medicaid program operations, including Medicaid reforms to reduce fraud and wasteful spending and implementing state flexibility programs to encourage innovation and improve care quality. HIMSS has developed a resource on how states are able to leverage Section 1115 waivers to invest in health information and technology.
In addition, ten states mentioned criminal justice in relation to health and healthcare. For example, North Dakota’s “Free through Recovery” community-based behavioral health services program for those in the criminal justice system and who are struggling with addiction, in combination with the coordination between two state agencies, resulted in care coordination and peer support for over 500 individuals. Care coordination through information systems is critical for populations in or transitioning in or out of the criminal justice system, as seen in this California use case.
Developing the health workforce was another top health priority among states. Massachusetts and Missouri governors urged for legislation to expand use of telehealth to improve access to care and address the shortage of care providers in rural communities. The governor of South Carolina mentioned their lead in telehealth statewide since their investment in telehealth for stroke care, obstetrics, behavioral health, and urgent care. Several states mention the need for a healthy workforce to support economic recovery, one of the many reasons to support public and population health.
Many governors have either seen great success through the use of health information and technology or are considering these methods for this coming year. HIMSS is are looking forward to continue analyzing these themes to produce a full report and mobilizing HIMSS local Chapter Advocates to advance state and local policy.