AHIC concludes healthcare IT advisory term
The American Health Information Community (AHIC), a U.S. advisory committee established in 2005 to offer recommendations to Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Mike Leavitt to accelerate the adoption of healthcare IT, formally concluded its work this week.

Since its inception, AHIC has brought together more than 160 public and private sector health IT experts to develop recommendations for advancing healthcare IT.

The AHIC held 25 public meetings and 176 public AHIC workgroup meetings resulting in 200 recommendations to Leavitt that addressed a variety of enablers and barriers to health IT.

Some of the accomplishments resulting from AHIC’s recommendations include:

  • The development of 26 priority areas to serve as the basis for the identification of standards, certification and networking of health information systems. The standards, efforts advanced by the Health IT Standards Panel, have resulted in the advancement and recognition of 52 interoperability standards for healthcare and public health. An additional 60 standards are expected to be recognized in January 2009. The standards will be used in all applicable federal systems and contracts, as well as in recognized software certification processes for commercial systems.
  • The development of a standards-based certification process for ensuring functionality, security and interoperability in EHRs supported by the Certification Commission for Healthcare IT (CCHIT). Since its inception, CCHIT has certified nearly 60 percent of inpatient EHR vendors representing more than 75 percent of the market, and certified more than 50 percent of vendors of ambulatory EHRs.
  • The identification of needed outreach and incentives to spur the adoption of EHRs. Recommendations were set forth that enabled HHS’ Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to identify 12 communities to participate in a national CMS five-year demonstration project that provides incentive payments to physicians for using certified EHRs to improve the quality of patient care.  
  • The development of a survey methodology, and analysis of the survey data, using a standardized definition of adoption that will serve as the basis and future standard to assess the rate of EHR adoption in hospitals and physician offices.
  • Successful live demonstrations of the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). The NHIN will arise from a public-private collaboration on a standards-based infrastructure that will enable broad, secure information exchange. The initiative has advanced from prototype development to a first demonstration of national data exchange among select NHIN participants in September. The NHIN will demonstrate additional data exchange capabilities in December.
  • The establishment of a Confidentiality, Privacy and Security Workgroup that addressed the needs for clear policies and procedures to ensure that appropriate privacy and security protections are developed and maintained for the electronic exchange of healthcare information. The recommendations will serve as the basis of a privacy and security framework for electronic health information exchange to be announced in December.

The AHIC will be succeeded by an independent, public-private enterprise, the AHIC Successor. The AHIC Successor will address opportunities for action identified by the AHIC, according to HHS.