Gov. Abbott Signs HB 2641, AKA ‘Ken’s Bill,’ Improving Data Interoperability for Texas Public Health

Late OZ Systems co-founder Dr. Ken Pool helped draft initial language; Texas e-Health Alliance played key role building coalition of supporters

ARLINGTON, TX (06/26/15) — OZ Systems, in conjunction with the Texas e-Health Alliance (TeHA), this week celebrates Governor Abbot’s signing of “Ken’s Bill” (HB 2641), which will promote improved and expanded health data interoperability for Texas public health. Dr. Pool was president of the board of directors of the Texas e-Health Alliance when the bill was drafted, and 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.

“Ken would be thrilled – he was instrumental in drafting the initial language and policy goals,” says Dr. Terese Finitzo, OZ Systems CEO, co-founder and widow of Dr. Pool. “It is no small feat to bring all the groups that supported this bill together. This is a hugely important interoperability bill for Texas public health, and it’s something Ken worked so hard to see come to fruition with the outstanding leadership of the Texas e-Health Alliance.”

House Bill 2641 helps better define “HIE,” or Health Information Exchange, within Texas statute and ensures that all public health systems are able to exchange health information securely, in accordance with applicable national data exchange standards. Authored by state representative John Zerwas, MD, 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.

“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” says Representative Zerwas.

“It’s important to note,” says Nora Belcher, executive director of the Texas e-Health Alliance, “that ‘Ken’s Bill’ requires future IT acquisitions by the state’s Health and Human Services Commission to be capable of standards-based interoperability, which is good news for patients and for Texas taxpayers.

The bill was signed into law by Governor Abbott on June 19 and will take effect September 1, 2015. “Ken’s Bill” has been heralded as model language that can enhance the value of health information exchange at a critical time when federal and state governments continue to spur providers and public health to accelerate adoption of timely, secure exchange of electronic health information.

About the Texas e-Health Alliance
The Texas e-Health Alliance (TeHA) is the state’s leading advocate, from local communities to the national level, for the use of information technology to improve the health care system for patients. TeHA is a connecting point for health information technology stakeholders to come together and share ideas, gain insights, develop partnerships and collaborate on solutions. TeHA is a trusted advisor to elected officials and local, state and federal agencies that provides decision makers with objective and relevant feedback on policy and regulatory proposals.