HHS readies framework for health IT system

The Health and Human Services Department is laying the foundation for a national health information network that would support the exchange of electronic health records.

David Brailer, National Coordinator for Health IT, is expected to provide details as early as this week of what industry has agreed upon as the basis for regional health information networks. The consensus is the product of comments from a request for information last year.

The health IT coordinator's office, based in HHS, recently posted pre-solicitation notices for the development of a nationwide health information network architecture and a process for interoperability of electronic health records.

Brailer also will ask vendors to assess state privacy and security policies that could impede exchange of health information among states and organizations.

Brailer plans to develop prototypes and operational models for a Nationwide Health Information Network Architecture that will enable health information to be shared electronically.

HHS anticipates awarding up to six contracts for one year with one-year options in fiscal 2006.

The national coordinator's office requires development of an electronic health record compliance certification and inspection process, which will include the infrastructure components through which electronic health records interoperate. That contract, to be awarded by Sept. 30, will have a duration of three years with one one-year option.

Under another notice, Brailer's office is seeking to support widespread interoperability among health care software applications, particularly electronic health record systems. Many standards currently exist. HHS will award a contract for three years with one one-year option by Sept. 30.

Some states have more stringent privacy and security requirements for health information than required under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. The health IT coordinator's office and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality in HHS will ask vendors to assess state laws and organizational business policies that pose challenges to automated health information exchange and determine how to coordinate them. HHS expects to award up to 40 contracts for one year with the potential for one one-year option by Sept. 30.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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