Political leaders in Florida and Kentucky have announced similar plans to create state-wide e-health networks, to enable family physicians, hospitals, health insurers and patients to exchange clinical and financial information more easily.

In Florida, Governor Jeb Bush, brother of President Bush, has said he will create an advisory committee to issue recommendations on how to establish an e-health network by December 2006.

In Kentucky, meanwhile, Daniel Mongiardo, MD, a Democratic state senator, has introduced legislation before the state legislature to create a statewide e-health network.  No US state has created an e-health network along the lines envisaged by Florida or Kentucky.

According to a report in American Medical Association (AMA) News Governor Bush’s e-health plans form part of a larger package of proposals designed to make health care more affordable and accessible and reduce medical errors.

The same AMA News report goes on to state that Governer Bush will ask the Florida Legislature to create financial incentives to encourage physicians to adopt electronic systems, but will not mandate adoption of electronic records.

The new advisory committee will also be asked to examine privacy issues, and to work with the federal government to Florida’s e-health plans are compatible with national efforts being led by US Secretary for Health and Human Services Tommy Thompson to create a national health information infrastructure, which will include electronic records.
In 2003 the US federal government commissioned the Institute of Medicine to design a standardised electronic medical record and endorsed key health data standards.

In his State of the Union address last month President Bush urged the healthcare industry to use electronic records to reduce medical errors, improve care and lower costs. Several of the candidates for the Democratic nomination to challenge President Bush in this year’s presidential elections have also spoken of the value of the need to co-ordinate investment in healthcare IT.