The National eHealth Collaborative
In 2004, the Federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) established a series of organizations and initiatives in an effort to further the adoption of interoperable electronic health records (EHRs).
The Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (CCHIT), and the Office of the National Coordinator for Healthcare Information Technology (ONC) were established. Demonstrations of aspects of a National Health Information Network (NHIN) were conducted, analyses of privacy regulations were undertaken, and assessments of EHR adoption were performed.
Overseeing all of these activities and organizations was a Federal Advisory Committee, the American Health Information Community (AHIC). You can learn more about all of the above at www.hhs.gov/healthit. AHIC was chaired by the Secretary of Health and Human Services and the committee’s membership was composed of individuals from diverse sectors of healthcare and various HHS agencies and Federal departments.
AHIC was set up to transition, at the end of 2008, to a successor organization. During 2008, the Brookings Institution managed an extensive series of meetings and analyses which involved hundreds of individuals from across healthcare, which designed the successor. This successor was to be a public-private organization and continue the work of the AHIC.
The resulting successor organization is the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC). You can learn more about NeHC at www.nationalehealth.org.
NeHC is focused on advancing the adoption and effective use of interoperable EHRs. To do that, the NeHC will:
- Use Value Cases to define opportunities to establish interoperability standards. The Value Case approach modifies the AHIC Use Case by performing more upfront analyses to ensure that the standards have a compelling value proposition and are likely to be adopted quickly by the market. In addition, the Value Case approach requires greater participation by healthcare organizations and seeks external funding of the work. It is highly likely that the Value Cases will be broader than transaction standards; Value Cases could also be policy and architecture frameworks and best practices. HITSP and CCHIT would continue their respective roles of interoperability specification development and product certification.
- Develop preliminary strategies and approaches for governing the emerging National Health Information Network.
- Identify barriers to the adoption of interoperable EHRs and commission work designed to overcome those barriers. This work might center on financial incentives, privacy approaches and procedures, data use agreements, and implementation practices.
NeHC will focus on “the ground.” In other words, while NeHC will work with government and industry on policy, its core orientation will be practical – how do we help those of us who are trying implement these systems overcome barriers and have a greater likelihood of improving care?
NeHC is a membership organization. Its members are organizations that have an interest in interoperable EHRs. In the next couple of months, information will be made available that outlines the membership application process and dues structure.
You all should check out the NeHC web site for new developments and announcements. You can also contact me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Laura Miller, NeHC Interim Executive Director of NeHC (email@example.com) with questions and comments.
John Glaser is vice president and CIO at Partners HealthCare System. He describes himself as an "irregular regular contributor" to HIStalk.