HSS health IT contract winners unveiled

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The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) today awarded three contracts totaling $17.5 million to public-private groups to form strategic partnerships to develop widespread adoption of health IT initiatives such as interoperable electronic health records (EHR).
The American National Standards Institute (ansi.org) has been selected for the area of IT standards and harmonization in a contract worth $3.3 million. For compliance certification (worth $2.7 million) the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (cchit.org) has been tapped. CCHIT is an alliance of established healthcare IT associations. The third contract was given to the Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration for privacy and security issues and is valued at $11.5 million. HISPC is a new partnership consisting of a multi-disciplinary team of experts and the National Governor's Association (NGA) and was developed by the Research Triangle Institute (rti.org).
Overall, as set forth by the HSS, the partnerships will:
  • Create and evaluate processes for harmonizing health information standards;
  • Develop criteria to certify and evaluate health IT products; and
  • Develop solutions to address variations in business policies and state laws regarding privacy and security practices that could stand in the way of secure communication of health information.
"These contracts are a significant milestone in a broader strategy to spur technical innovation for nationwide sharing of health information and adoption of electronic health records," said David Brailer, MD, PhD, National Health Information Technology Coordinator in a release. "This work will set the stage for an internet-based architecture that will allow secure, timely and accurate exchange of health information among patients, clinicians, and other authorized healthcare entities."

These three partnerships were established through contracts between private, non-profit entities and HHS. A fourth RFP, for development of nationwide health information network (NHIN) architectures, will be announced before the end of 2005, HSS said.