Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill into law to promote improved and expanded health data interoperability for Texas public health.
House Bill 2641 helps better define health information exchange (HIE) within Texas statute and aims to ensure that all public health systems are able to exchange health information securely, in accordance with applicable national data exchange standards. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Abbott on June 19 and will take effect September 1, 2015.
Authored by state representative John Zerwas, M.D., an anesthesiologist from Houston, the new law also allows health-related information to be transmitted through local health information exchanges to the appropriate state public health agencies, a critical provision for technology innovators working to facilitate the secure exchange of health data.
The bill is called “Ken’s Bill” after Dr. Ken Pool, M.D., who was president of the board of directors of the Texas e-Health Alliance when the bill was drafted. TeHA is credited with pulling together a broad coalition of stakeholders—hospital associations and medical associations, among others—that saw the bill through to passage.
“HB 2641 is an important step towards making sure that we are empowering providers to get the most out of their investments in health information technologies, and in moving our state health care data systems into the modern era” Representative John Zerwas, M.D., author of the bill, said in a statement.