Friday, October 07, 2005

ONCHIT INITIAL 3 AWARDS

The Department of Health and Human Services announced the award of three contracts for reducing privacy, security and interoperability barriers that have hindered the widespread use of health information technology.
All three contractors are nonprofit organizations. “These partners…are not the traditional kinds of federal contractors,” said Dr. David Brailer, the national health IT coordinator whose office issued the contracts. “We’re not procuring a result from them” but rather a process, he said.
The largest of the three contracts, worth $11.5 million, went to Research Triangle Institute International, based in Durham, N.C. The organization will gather state officials to harmonize health information privacy and security rules across state lines. The institute will work with the National Governors Association and privacy experts to smooth out variations in privacy laws.
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), the United States’ umbrella standards organization, won a $3.3 million contract to convene a health IT standards panel that would figure out how to select a set of standards for electronic health records (EHRs). The standards must ensure that authorized individuals and organizations can exchange them among one another.
The Certification Commission for Health IT (CCHIT), a private organization, will get $2.7 million to continue developing criteria and processes for certifying EHRs’ functionality, security and interoperability. The purpose is to increase buyers’ confidence that health IT products will work the way the vendor says they will.
“I think the real legitimacy of all these organizations is not just the federal tap,” Brailer said. Each of them will establish public/private partnerships, he said.
HHS will announce the winners of the fourth health IT procurement, for National Health Information Network architectures and prototypes, by early November, Brailer said.

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