Presidential health IT order changing U.S. healthcare culture
According to U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt, Executive Order 13410, “Promoting Quality and Efficient Health Care in Federal Government Administered or Sponsored Health Care Programs,” has had a culture-changing effect in the healthcare sector in the past year.

The order, released in August 2006, was issued to ensure that healthcare programs administered or sponsored by the U.S. government promote quality and efficient delivery of healthcare through the use of health IT, transparency regarding healthcare quality and price, and better incentives for program beneficiaries, enrollees and providers.

Leavitt said that HHS, through the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), has successfully piloted models for a Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).

Using the internet, the NHIN will be a network of networks that will connect health information exchanges in different markets to enable the secure and confidential sharing of health information (HIE) across the healthcare system. In fiscal year 2008, Leavitt said that ONC will begin trial implementations of competing prototypes that have been demonstrated as viable models for the NHIN. 

Leavitt also said that federal departments and agencies are coordinating and adopting consistent contract language that will require the use of newly developed and soon-to-be recognized interoperability standards. Beginning in the next contracting cycle, agency contracts will include this language, requiring the use, where available, of health IT that meets recognized interoperability standards.

He also noted that the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs are collaborating to an unprecedented degree in HIE across diverse information technology systems to improve the information available to caregivers who treat U.S. service members and veterans.

According to the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, Allan Hubbard, the order has served as a catalyst for encouraging the healthcare system to provide the coordination and information necessary to become more effective and affordable.