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U.S. Awards Contracts Totaling $18.6 Million For E-Health Projects

Four groups of companies will develop an architecture and prototype network for the secure sharing of patient information among hospitals, labs, pharmacies, and physicians in the selected participating regional markets.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on Thursday awarded four contracts totaling $18.6 million to four groups of health-care IT vendors, services firms, and health-care providers who will develop prototypes for a national health information highway.

The prototypes for the nationwide health information network will help propel the U.S. toward President Bush's goal for the creation an electronic highway for the sharing of digitized patient medical records, said Health Secretary Michael Leavitt in a statement released by HHS.

Under the one-year contracts--which also has an additional one-year option for renewal for additional developments--the four consortia will develop an architecture and prototype network for the secure sharing of patient information among hospitals, labs, pharmacies, and physicians in the selected participating regional markets.

All four consortia will also work together to ensure that their individual prototypes meet standards identified by HHS, says Scott Myers, managing director of Accenture's health and life-sciences practice, which was awarded to lead one of the four consortiums. This is to make certain each prototype can move digital health information seamlessly between each other's networks, ultimately creating a single infrastructure.

Work on the prototypes kick off on Nov. 28, and are slated for completion in 12 months. During that time, the office of national coordinator for technology--led by Dr. David Brailer--will choose from the four efforts the "best practices, learning and experiences and standards" that will be part of the larger nationwide health information network, says Myers.

During the initial year of this work, each consortium will focus development work on networks that can support and facilitate chronic disease management; personal health records in which consumers can access their information; quality measures for clinical care; E-prescriptions; and bio-surveillance, says Myers.

The four consortia awarded the contracts are:

  • Accenture, working with Apelon, Cisco, CGI-AMS, Creative Computing Solutions, eTech Security Pro, Intellithought, Lucent Glow, Oakland Consulting Group, Oracle, and Quovadx. This group will work with the following health market areas: Eastern Kentucky Regional Health Community (Kentucky); CareSpark (Tennessee); and West Virginia eHealth Initiative (West Virginia).

  • The second consortium is lead by CSC, working with Browsersoft, Business Networks International, Center for Information Technology Leadership, Connecting for Health, DB Consulting Group, eHealth Initiative, Electronic Health Record Vendors Association, Microsoft, Regenstrief Institute, SiloSmashers, and Sun Microsystems. This group will work with the following health market areas: Indiana Health Information Exchange (Indiana); MA-SHARE (Massachusetts); and Mendocino HRE (California).

  • IBM, working with Argosy, Business Innovation, Cisco, HMS Technologies, IDL Solutions, Ingenium, and VICCS. This group will work with the following health market areas: Taconic Health Information Network and Community (New York); North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance (Research Triangle, North Carolina); and North Carolina Healthcare Information and Communications Alliance (Rockingham County, N.C.)

  • Northrop Grumman, working with Air Commander, Axolotl, Client/Server Software Solutions, First Consulting Group, SphereCom Enterprises, and WebMD. This group will work with the following health market areas: Santa Cruz RHIO (Santa Cruz, California); and HealthBridge (Cincinnati, Ohio); University Hospitals Health System (Cleveland, Ohio).

    Myers says HHS chose the four groups from "scores and scores" of applicants.

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