RTI International has been awarded an $11.5 million contract from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) to support efforts to develop the National Health Information Network, a system in which electronic health records would be stored and shared among healthcare providers nationwide.
Establishing the network represents a critical shift in the nation's healthcare system that is aimed at increasing the "portability" of healthcare as well as the accuracy of medical diagnoses, treatments and prescriptions while also reducing health care costs. The challenge in establishing the network is to develop technology and business process standards that allow nationwide access and interoperability while keeping the patient information secure, protecting individual patient privacy and ensuring the appropriate degree of patient control over their records.
"Technical feasibility is just the beginning of achieving interoperable health records and realizing the potential of health IT," said Carolyn M. Clancy, MD, AHRQ director. "We also must ensure the privacy and security of health records and at the same time address the many differing privacy and security requirements that exist from state to state and from business to business."
Under the terms of the 18-month contract, RTI will form the Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration (HISPC), a new partnership consisting of a multidisciplinary team of experts and the National Governors Association. This team will work with approximately 40 states or territorial governments to assess and develop plans to address variations in organization-level business policies and state laws that affect privacy and security practices that may pose challenges to interoperable health information exchange.