RHIOs included in federal health IT efforts

SAN DIEGO'The Health and Human Services Department will release a request for proposals within a few weeks for an assessment of state regional health information organizations (RHIOs) to include them in the national health IT effort.

Details have not been finalized, but national health IT coordinator David Brailer said yesterday that he anticipates the review would take about six months and be completed by the end of September. The contractor also would assemble a set of best practices for a model state RHIO and perform a gap analysis to determine where RHIOs are in relation to that model. Brailer's office wants to start working with RHIOs to close that gap.

'This effort to bring RHIOs along represents the final big piece of the infrastructure that we need to begin operationally deploying health IT,' Brailer said at the annual conference of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society in San Diego.

RHIOs, the grassroots pioneers in adopting networked health IT, are groups of providers in states or local areas or communities of shared interest, such as children's hospitals, who exchange patient data to provide more effective and efficient care.

Most RHIOs receive some federal funding as demonstration projects and through grants. Brailer wants to provide a formal direction for them so that RHIOs can attract financing to sustain themselves.

Among the goals Brailer detailed for the RHIO project:
  • Every state will have a RHIO

  • For states that have more than one RHIO, one state-level RHIO will be responsible for coordinating with smaller RHIOs across the state and

  • RHIOs should meet minimum standards for governance, financing, function and transparency.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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