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News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, July 21, 2004
Contact: Edmund Byrnes
Tel: 202-606-2402

OPM Director Kay Coles James Announces OPM Role in President's Healthcare Information Technology Structure

James indicates, "The President's vision will go a long way toward improving the quality of this Nation's health care."

Washington, D.C. - In compliance with Executive Order 13335, an Order that establishes the importance of the development and implementation of electronic medical records, the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) has issued a report on the Federal Employees Health Benefits (FEHB) Program's role in ensuring that records are easily and securely transferred between medical providers.

"The President's vision will go a long way toward improving the quality of this Nation's health care. It will save lives, increase the wellness of our citizens, enhance efficiency and reduce health care costs," said OPM Director Kay Coles James. "OPM is proud to be a part of this endeavor and will champion the President's vision as well as be alert to new opportunities as they arise. While the task of developing and implementing a nationwide interoperable health information technology infrastructure may seem formidable, this Administration has complete respect for the power and creativity of the private sector to determine solutions. Consistent with this and previous policy guiding the FEHB, our efforts will be supported through strong encouragement not mandates."

OPM's report showcases its role with the FEHB Program, its carriers and its stakeholders. The report underscores the leverage OPM's purchasing power has with the private sector and draws a roadmap of how OPM will use its purchasing power to support the development and implementation of health information technology. The report indicates how OPM's collaboration with other organizations and the options it is exploring will further the President's vision. Ideas outlined in the report include strongly encouraging health plans to link disease management and quality initiatives to health information technology systems for measurable improvement, and basing a portion of the profit it pays to the plans on their developing incentives for providers to adapt paperless systems.

As the manager of the FEHB Program which purchases health benefits coverage for more than 8 million people, OPM has worked closely for many years with other purchasers and with the health plans that participate in the Program to achieve and maintain high quality health care at a reasonable price.

"Director James is proud and honored that President George W. Bush has included a major emphasis on the FEHB Program in his vision to implement a nationwide interoperable health information technology structure," said OPM Associate Director Stephen Benowitz during an event at the Washington Convention Center. "Director James fully recognizes the success of this effort will result in substantial benefits for the Program and its enrollees, and OPM is taking steps to leverage its significant purchasing power to ensure the FEHB Program is an effective partner in the collaborative effort to achieve the adoption of this new technology infrastructure."

Options that OPM is exploring to speed the adoption of health information technology include: encouraging FEHB Program health plans through the use of incentives to adopt systems that are based on accepted standards such as the Federal Health Architecture, encouraging plans to highlight their Provider Directories to indicate individual provider health information technology capabilities, and encouraging plans to link disease management and quality initiatives to health information technology systems for measurable improvements.

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Our mission is to Recruit, Retain and Honor a World-Class Workforce to Serve the American People. OPM supports U.S. agencies with personnel services and policy leadership including staffing tools, guidance on labor-management relations and programs to improve work force performance.


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