We all are aware that our lives are practically becoming digital; so are hospitals. Major funding initiatives are underway to support the transition of hospitals into the digital age. In 2004, the US government spent $50 million to test computerization of health records and further proposed $125 million in related federal spending for the year 2005.
In April 2004, President Bush asked the IT industry to build a system that would provide every citizen of the United States with an electronic health record (EHR) that could be accessed from any location by 2014. He appointed Dr. Brailer (national coordinator for Health Information Technology for the Department of Health and Human Services) to coordinate this effort and establish the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).
In December 2005, Dr. Brailer’s office awarded $18.6 million in contracts to four consortia led by IBM, Computer Science Corporation, Accenture and Northrop Grumman to develop prototype architectures for the NHIN. Each group consists of developers, hospitals, laboratories, pharmacies and physicians who must prove that EHRs can be exchanged across different health organizations.
In a similar effort to build such data interchange networks, Connecting for Health, a public-private collaborative led by the Markle Foundation, developed a prototype system (which will release in Spring 2006) that was successful in exchanging thousands of health records from three independently developed regional records systems (California, Massachusetts and Indiana). These three independently developed health systems had no common architecture but were able to apply the common framework developed by Connecting for Health for the exchange of records.
Seeing such successful projects, we can be rest assured that our federal money is being utilized efficiently and in the right direction.