CCST Convenes First Meeting of Newly Formed Personalized Health Information Technology Task Force

On May 27, 2009, the California Council on Science and Technology convened, on behalf of the State’s Business, Transportation and Housing Agency (BT & H), the first formal meeting of a newly formed Personalized Health Information Technology Task Force (PHIT). This meeting was an outcome of several months of investigative work by a steering committee of PHIT Task Force members.

On September 19, 2008, BT & H convened a representative group of industry and academic leaders in Personalized Health (“PH”) from the public and private sectors. Meeting participants identified the immediate need to inform the State of emerging risks, benefits and opportunities afforded by PH and concluded California could lead the nation in PH policy as it has in climate change and energy.

Based on subsequent discussions, a “Moving Forward” implementation plan was proposed by CCST to allow policymakers and implementers to make informed decisions. The study will be conducted by up to three task forces, commencing with Task Force I on Personalized Health Information Technology. The February 2009 passage of the federal American Recovery and Reinvestment (ARRA) legislation has greatly increased federal funding available for Clinical Information Systems.

The Personalized Health Information Technology Task Force (chaired by Dr. Ramesh Rao, California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, UCSD) is charged to propose HIT infrastructure goals for the state in support of personalized health. Included in the Task Force work is scoping of a pilot project involving building a model system incorporating many sources, types and formats of data including genomic information, biomarkers, and images through one or more partners and enabling information exchange through Electronic Health Records and Personal Health Records within a private and secure system.

According to Kathryn Lowell, BT & H Deputy Secretary for Health Systems and Life Sciences, “With the advancement in personal health records, we are interested in exploring how to incorporate personalized health information in a manner that can lead to better patient identification, health outcomes and improved quality of care while reducing health care costs.”

Task Force Chair Ramesh Rao noted, “The purpose of the pilot study is to recommend to the State’s Business Transportation and Housing Agency, the Health and Human Services Agency’s Health Information Exchange (HIE) workgroups, and the Privacy and Security Advisory Board (PSAB), processes and means for validating and sharing (inter-institutional) information, tools and materials of personalized health and for determining the potential value of Health Information Technology as applied to personalized health care.” The May 27th meeting purpose was to further define Task Force objectives and scope of the pilot study.

Kathleen Behrens, keynote speaker at the February CCST meeting, commented that personalized health “has the potential both to positively impact the increasing costs of healthcare and to decrease the rate of new medical product development.” Behrens served as a member of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology (PCAST) from 2001-2009, working on multiple national policy matters. She chaired PCAST’s Subcommittee on Personalized Medicine and led a two-year study that culminated in the September 2008 report, Priorities for Personalized Medicine.

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