On Monday, National Coordinator for Health IT David Blumenthal said his office plans to "harmonize" electronic health record standards with the National Health Information Network, Federal Computer Week reports (Lipowicz, Federal Computer Week, 6/29).
Blumenthal spoke during a seminar on NHIN and the Connect gateway, a set of open-source tools that allow organizations to access NHIN services (Mosquera, Government Health IT, 6/29).
NHIN is a health data exchange system developed under former President George W. Bush's administration. The Veterans Administration, the Social Security Administration and others currently use the technology.
NHIN as a Path to 'Meaningful Use'
Under the federal economic stimulus law, health care providers who demonstrate "meaningful use" of EHRs can qualify for incentive payments.
Although the government has yet to define meaningful use, Blumenthal said the criteria likely will require health care providers to share patient data with a health information exchange such as NHIN.
Blumenthal said, "NHIN can provide a path for meaningful use," adding, "Our hope is that it will support health information exchange and meaningful use at the federal, state and local levels" (Federal Computer Week, 6/29).
Blumenthal also said NHIN connectivity will help health care providers maximize their investment in health IT (Government Health IT, 6/29).
Chopra Chimes in
Aneesh Chopra, President Obama's chief technology officer, also spoke during the conference about his experiences with NHIN.
In his former position as Virginia's CTO, Chopra oversaw MedVirginia's trial participation in the system. He said that as a statewide health data exchange, MedVirginia could serve as a model for how other states could participate in NHIN.
Chopra also called for health care providers to support the Obama administration's efforts to expand broadband services, which could help boost the functionality of health data exchanges (Federal Computer Week, 6/29).