American Health Information Community (AHIC), a federal advisory workgroup, has recommended steps to modernize the country’s public health infrastructure.
AHIC has reported that sections of the Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) are entirely partitioned from each another within a jurisdiction or with their peers in other jurisdictions. It called for interoperability, security and functionality standards to ensure that spending develops into a stronger and more flexible infrastructure.
It said that the grant-making agencies should insist that new systems adhere to the standards.
A letter from the workgroup also states that public health authorities are hindered by a lack of IT expertise in their domain. The agency called for more harmonization of lab systems and an integrated approach to reporting environmental, public health and other lab results that would help public health emergency respondents.
Currently, the national identification system for healthcare providers should be enhanced to provide a single number for each practitioner and other medical-service providers to aid in routing data to a specific location or office, according to the AHIC.
AHIC also suggested that supply chains for medical supplies and countermeasures should share more data with one another and with national authorities during emergencies. “By June 2008, HHS should facilitate development of national administrative or legal approaches for routine and emergency interstate data exchange of countermeasure and immunization information,” the letter stated.
“This is a very large project. But it’s the right project,” said Mike Leavitt, HHS secretary.