Thursday, June 16, 2005

Health Officials Seek to Expand RHIOs

Health Officials Seek To Expand RHIOs June 10, 2005
More than 20 regional health information organizations are swapping data and more than 100 have been created, Federal Computer Week reports. However, government officials are reluctant to be the main source of funding for such efforts, even though they have said such networks will help broaden health care IT adoption. National Health IT Coordinator Dr. David Brailer last month at the Connecting Communities for Better Health meeting in Washington, D.C., said RHIOs can move forward without government leadership. He said, "This grassroots movement is moving much faster than the federal government can move." However, some experts believe government leadership is crucial in advancing health care IT, Federal Computer Week reports. HHS has pledged $139 million over five years to provide direct assistance to several pilot RHIOs and to support other RHIO activities. Brailer said his office is focusing on a national model to harmonize and integrate local network, allowing the RHIOs to exchange data with one another (Ferris, Federal Computer Week, 6/9). Officials at last month's meeting also said public health organizations have been left out of efforts to establish RHIOs, Federal Computer Week reports. Dr. Farzad Mostashari, an assistant commissioner at the New York City Health and Mental Hygiene Department, called for public health agencies to be included because they need to provide information about individual health problems and possible epidemics. Dr. Perry Smith, New York's chief epidemiologist, said public health agencies do not get enough funding for new programs and technology to participate in RHIO efforts (Ferris, Federal Computer News, 6/9).

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