Governor Deval L. Patrick
Health Information Technology Conference
DCU Center, Worcester
Monday, May 9 2011

To all the participants present today, to Dr. David Blumenthal and Dr. Sachin Jain, our esteemed guests, to the members of my administration and the many representatives from one of our region's most dynamic business sectors: welcome to Worcester, our Commonwealth's second-largest city.

I'd like to welcome you to a conversation about one of the most dynamic innovation industries in America. From our standpoint, health care IT is an area where good health policy is also good jobs policy. So we have convened this forum for the second year in a row as an opportunity to exchange ideas and explore some mutual strategies for maximizing the potential of this exciting new industry.

I am proud to say that Massachusetts leads the Nation in health care coverage for our residents. 98 percent of our residents have health insurance today. 99.8 percent of children. No other state in America can touch that. For five years now, universal coverage is working in Massachusetts. And I am proud that we are the President's national health care reform, signed into law last year.

All this means more people in our Commonwealth are getting preventive care instead of waiting until they have to go to the emergency room. Families no longer have to worry about a catastrophic illness forcing them into bankruptcy. And more private companies are offering health insurance to their employees now than were before the bill. Health care reform has also been eminently affordable to the state -- with 98 percent of our residents covered, health care reform has added only 1 percent of the state budget in state spending.

But above all, that law was a statement of our values, of who we are as a Commonwealth. We codified into law the idea that health is a public good, and that every man, woman and child deserves access to adequate care.

In a way, health care reform is part of continuum. For a long time now, Massachusetts has been a leader in medical innovation and pushing the frontiers of modern medicine. It is reflected in our economics.

Health care is the largest sector in Massachusetts and one of our fastest growing. The industry generates $29 billion in revenue each year through the more than 19,000 hospitals, clinics, offices and laboratories we host. We are home to the top five NIH funded hospitals in the country as well as the highest level of NIH funding per capita. We have the most health-related PhD degrees per capita and some of the world's finest research universities and institutions of higher learning are located here. Medical devices are one of our strongest exports and we employ a higher percentage of the American medical device industry than any other state, outside of California.

Information technology is a traditional growth area in our state, too, along the Route 128 corridor but it's no longer "your father's Route 128." It's telecommunications: developing new software for mobile devices like iPhones and iPads. It's robotics and video game development, for which we have become the third-largest center for development in the country.

And increasingly, it's the cutting edge technology that powers hospitals, saves lives and helps bring down costs. There are more than 50 health care IT companies in Massachusetts. All told, more than 5,000 Bay State residents work in health care IT. These companies are at the front of the medical industry, developing the technology that are giving physicians secure, instant access to patients' medical records, diagnostic information, or treatment support.

The cluster here is meeting the demand set off by a revolution in the way doctors do business. Doctors' offices across Massachusetts and, increasingly, across the country, are replacing rows of filing cabinets with secure, electronic health care records. With portable, standardized data at their fingertips, physicians are able to provide better care with fewer errors at a lower cost.

We're making progress. Forty-five percent of doctors have adopted electronic records, nearly triple the national average, and SureScripts has named Massachusetts the number one e-prescribing state in the country the past two years. More than 50% of hospitals have adopted Computer Physician Order entry, more than five times the national average by some estimates. That's good news for doctors, for our economy and for patients.

So the industry is experiencing rapid growth. In government, we've been doing our part to support that growth through targeted investments as part of our overall growth strategy. In 2008 we launched the Massachusetts eHealth Institute to do exactly that. To date, they've enrolled over 2,500 primary care providers across the state to accelerate the adoption of electronic health record systems. We were the first state in the nation to reach the milestone of enrolling 2500 providers. Physicians enrolled with the eHealth Institute have access to financing opportunities to make the transition to electronic records and a variety of resources at their disposal to make sure they are utilizing the new tools they have.

We're working with our federal partners to deploy these resources through a regional network of implementation centers and partnerships with financial institutions. And, thanks to the President's Recovery Act, we have new sources of funding to assist physicians as they shift from paper records to electronic ones. Through these and other efforts we'll promote the continued growth of secure, standardized electronic health records in doctor's offices across the Commonwealth.

One of the central reasons we have to get health IT right concerns the escalating cost of health care. This is a significant challenge that faces government, businesses and working families -- and we need to face it together.

Rising costs are a national challenge; it is not unique to Massachusetts or to the North East or to any one part of the medical community. It affects all of us who have a stake in the health care delivery system and it is a challenge we will never solve unless we work together in a meaningful way.

The good news is that there's an emerging consensus about solutions. By most accounts, higher quality care -- meaning well-integrated, whole person care -- equates to lower cost. Instead of paying for the fragmented, fee-for-service system we have today, we ought to pay for integrated care. Paying for that kind of care will encourage different kinds of behaviors in the delivery of care - with the added benefit of restraining cost increases to about the rate of GDP growth. In Massachusetts, we've introduced some new proposals to encourage this kind of innovation -- a lot of which is already going on in the industry. And we've introduced some new tools that will help get us there in partnership with the medical community.

You are a part of this solution. Modernizing the infrastructure that supports health care is a critical piece of the puzzle and it has the potential to radically change the cost equation while improving the outcomes that patients experience.

Help us get there. Work with us to bring the same advances in electronic records-keeping that big hospitals have enjoyed to community health centers in cities like Worcester. Help us design the systems that will let an emergency room surgeon in Connecticut access her patient's files from a physician in Nashua in the space of a heartbeat. Let's pay for a system that works like that, rather than the fragmented one we have today.

Ours is a Commonwealth -- and a country -- that is always asking, "What's next?" I believe, in the health care field, we can begin to answer that question here today. If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got, you know that. We have to be about looking ahead and making bold advances if we ever want to reach the system we know we must have.

So, in that spirit, thank you for your participation today and for your commitment to this exciting field. I'd be happy to take some of your questions.