Monday, June 06, 2005

Advisory Panel Creation

Leavitt To Announce Creation of Advisory Panel June 06, 2005
HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt on Monday is expected to announce that the department is creating an advisory panel composed of federal and private-sector members to steer national efforts to adopt a health IT system, the Wall Street Journal reports. The panel, called the American Health Information Community, will be formed in July and will provide a way for the government to work with the technology industry, health care providers and consumer groups. The panel will hold public meetings and help identify public and private health IT projects that can be completed relatively quickly, both within and outside of government. HHS also will solicit nongovernmental entities to craft additional standards. HHS is issuing four requests for proposals to begin the contracting process. One request asks for a process to create uniform data standards and is scheduled to be awarded by Sept. 30. A second request, also to be awarded by Sept. 30, solicits the creation of a certification-and-inspection process for electronic health records. According to officials, the certification will be "crucial" in helping hospitals, doctors and insurers to assess software that comes on the market. The third request will award up to six contracts to groups that will develop and test models of how to share health information across different markets. The models would function on the Internet but permit patient data to be transmitted securely. The government will own the rights to the models and have the option of reproducing them. The final request asks for an evaluation of state laws associated with privacy and security of health information. Officials did not disclose the value of the government contracts, most of which will extend for a three-year period. HHS will spend $82.4 million on health IT in 2005. Several of the major decisions are expected to be made within the next two years, the Journal reports. Administration officials also said they are seeking a gradual implementation process that would be market-sensitive. Leavitt said, "It is clear to me that the power to innovate lies in the private sector, but for the private sector to do its magic, it needs to be channeled into a common framework." Officials said attracting more physician offices to the health IT system will be addressed at a later time and could possibly include financial incentives (Lueck, Wall Street Journal, 6/6).


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