National health IT chief sees 2005 as a breakthrough year

Health systems and connectivity will soon let physicians, hospitals and other providers in the civilian world participate in interoperable regional health networks.

So contends Dr. David Brailer, the Bush administration's national health IT coordinator. His office at the Health and Human Services Department coordinates $4 billion in federal health IT initiatives. Right now, Brailer's team is studying industry responses to a request for information on how to build a medical Internet.

'I view 2005 as when we get the basic ideas in place and 2006 to build it, and in 2007, there's going to be significant [electronic health record] adoption,' Brailer said.

Digitizing health information in private medical care also will help the government's two chief medical services providers, the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments. The next step would be data integration among government and industry health care providers.

'We have a pressing need to exchange information with the private sector because an estimated 40 percent of veterans we treat each year get care outside of VA,' said Dr. Robert Kolodner, VA's acting deputy CIO for health. 'To give them the best care, we'd like to have all information from their health care providers outside of VA.'

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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