USA - In line with the Federal Government’s drive to progress IT for healthcare, nationwide, FCW Media Group, the publisher of Federal Computer Week, produces the magazine Government Health IT to provide a roundup of health IT news from the US and abroad, including policy, technology, business and financing issues. For example, its updates have highlighted difficulties in setting up a national healthcare IT network. One recent report informed that, after deliberating over 1,200 initial requirements to arrive at a framework for exchanging medical records among doctors, hospitals and other healthcare providers across the US, the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics had voted to send its report, ‘Minimum but Inclusive Functional Requirements Needed for the Initial Definition of a Nationwide Health Information Network’, to the US Department of Health and Human Services (DoHHS) – but first minor edits would have to be made.
The committee’s discussion focused on the label ‘minimum’ would dictate an all-or-nothing approach to fielding portions of the (NHIN), dubbed ‘a network of networks’.
Committee member Stanley Huff, a physician and professor of medical informatics at the University of Utah, questioned whether it would preclude incremental implementation of the network. He said someone building a limited-purpose network, as an initial step, should not have to comply with all the requirements.
Dr Simon Cohn, the committee chairman, responded that the ‘minimum’ label was not intended to stifle movement toward the full implementation of the NHIN. The committee agreed to add a sentence clarifying this point.
The report calls for DoHHS to extend HIPAA-like privacy protections to all personal health records, regardless of who manages them. It also recommends that the DoHHS to provide those protections ‘through enhancements and extensions to HIPAA or through other appropriate mechanisms’.
The report calls for the DoHHS to support standards that would allow a patient’s or doctor’s preferences concerning specific data to travel across the network in health information exchanges, which means, for example, that a patient’s desire to keep confidential a record of mental health issues or HIV/AIDS would persist, no matter who had a copy of the record.