Where's the national health information network?

December 8, 2006

A year ago, there was a lot of talk about building a national health information network that would connect information systems of healthcare providers all over the country. The Commission on Systemic Interoperability (CSI), a body that advises Congress, issued 14 commendations for establishing such a network.

A year ago, there was a lot of talk about building a national health information network that would connect information systems of healthcare providers all over the country. The Commission on Systemic Interoperability (CSI), a body that advises Congress, issued 14 recommendations for establishing such a network.

Recently, the National Alliance for Health Information Technology, whose president, Scott Wallace, chairs CSI, put out a "progress report" showing that there's been little progress on interoperability (Health Data Management, Oct. 31). While HHS has acted to a limited extent on eight of CSI's recommendations, Congress has failed to pass legislation that would implement such proposals as financial incentives for the adoption of standards-based IT, says Wallace's group. Private payers have also failed to provide similar incentives, adds NAHIT.

Meanwhile, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics recently approved a draft of minimum functional requirements for the national health information network. Intended as a set of guidelines for government action, the draft addresses privacy, certification, communications, data storage, data transactions, location of health data, transport standards, and patient identification (Healthcare IT News, Oct. 30).