New York, NY and Washington, DC—Thirteen major health and information technology organizations, in an unprecedented joint collaboration, today endorsed a “Common Framework” to support improved health information exchange in the United States while protecting patient privacy. The collaborating organizations have identified the vital design elements – of standards, policies, and methods—for creating a new information environment that would allow health care professionals, institutions, and individual Americans to exchange health information in order to improve patient care. These recommendations were developed in response to the Request for Information related to a “National Health Information Network” issued by the U.S. Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) within the Department of Health and Human Services in November 2004.
The collaborative foresees a new health information environment that would allow appropriate users to find, request and retrieve patient records rapidly and accurately, subject to patient authorization. This decentralized approach takes advantage of the significant investment already made in information technology in U.S. health care, protects the privacy of patient information, and allows rapid progress toward providing Americans with more reliable, higher quality care. The recommended approach does not require centralized national databases, replacement of existing information networks, or a unique national health identifier.
The new health information environment should be based on:
- Open, consensus-driven and non-proprietary standards and common methods for their adoption
- Connectivity built on the Internet and other existing networks
- Uniform policies that protect privacy, assure security, and support existing trust relationships.
The collaborative also recommends the use of financial incentives for the adoption of standards-based information technology in health care, citing opportunities to leverage this environment to produce value for patients, consumers, professionals, researchers, the public health community and, indeed, all sectors of our health care system. Finally, the recommendations describe the roles and structure of both the national and regional elements of this environment.