Wednesday, January 23, 2008

AHIC 2.0

The American Health Information Community (AHIC) is a federal advisory body, chartered in 2005 to make recommendations to the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services on how to accelerate the development and adoption of health information technology. Yesterday, the Secretary announced a successor to AHIC that will be a public-private partnership to be completed by Fall 2008. What does that mean for the health community and for states?

First of all, AHIC had four areas of focus:
  • Consumer Empowerment - Make available a consumer-directed and secure electronic record of health care registration information and a medication history for patients.
  • Chronic Care - Allow the widespread use of secure messaging, as appropriate, as a means of communication between doctors and patients about care delivery.
  • Biosurveillance - Enable the transfer of standardized and anonymized health data from the point of health care delivery to authorized public health agencies within 24 hours of its collection.
  • Electronic Health Records - Create an electronic health record that includes laboratory results and interpretations, that is standardized, widely available and secure
These were supporting AHIC's goal for most Americans to have access to electronic health records by 2014. LMI teaming with the Brookings Institute, it was announced, will lead the effort to define AHIC 2.0. Scope for the AHIC success includes:
  • Accelerate and coordinate current AHIC interoperability initiatives including standards harmonization and certification of health IT;
  • Prioritize stakeholder requirements for nationwide health IT interoperability;
  • Advance the harmonization of technology standards and policies, including those to protect confidentiality, privacy, and security;
  • Oversee and facilitate the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN – a network-of-networks), including necessary governance and/or accreditation of participant organizations;
  • Advance the certification of products, network participants, and/or operations
At the same time, Utah - as well as other states, is working on its own healthcare interoperability initiatives. HB24 was one of the first bills to pass from the House to the Senate, on only the second day of the session by a vote of 55-15, and deals with changes to the Utah Digital Health Service Commission. According to the bill, ""Digital health service" means the electronic transfer, exchange, or management of related data for diagnosis, treatment, consultation, educational, public health, or other related purposes. So, it is important for all of these various initiatives to be cognizant of each other and collaborative to ensure effective implementation of their common objectives. Also, it is important that citizens and consumers have some input into the process and that it not be entirely dominated by healthcare professionals.

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