The zeal for a better health-care system will evolve this year into intensified industry collaboration to come up with more concrete plans and details for how the nation can actually achieve Bush's goal for most Americans to have interoperable, electronic health records by 2014.
That's the prediction of Dr. Carol Diamond, chair of the steering group of Connecting For Health, a private-public collaborative of more than 90 health-care organizations working in the fields of clinical data standards, privacy, and security. Last week, Connecting For Health, along with a dozen other major health-care IT-related organizations, disclosed an agreement on a common framework to support improved health information sharing while protecting patient privacy.
This common framework--which includes recommendations for consensus-driven, nonproprietary standards; Web-based connectivity; and protection of patient privacy--was submitted to the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, led by Dr. David Brailer, in response to his office's request for information related to a National Health Information Network issued in November.
"This coming year is an opportunity for specificity of what is real and what can work," Diamond says. "We've been amazed by the level of willingness and acceptance in collaborating on this." This agreement marks a big step forward as the industry works to make a national interoperable, connected health IT system a reality, Diamond says.
Connecting For Health, which was conceived by and is operated by the Markle Foundation, last summer unveiled a preliminary road map consisting of practical recommendations for what the industry needs to do create an interoperable infrastructure for health-care information connectivity. Those recommendations include the creation of a nonproprietary "network of networks," financial incentives to remove cost barriers for the industry to adopt health IT, and suggestions for engaging and educating the public about the benefits of health IT, including giving individuals electronic access to their own medical records.
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