In Phase 1 (2002–2003), the Markle Connecting for Health collaborative focused especially on moving the health care field toward the adoption of health care data standards, identifying “noteworthy” practices in privacy and security, and elaborating the role of the consumer and the personal health record.
Its initial outputs represent progress that has eluded the health care industry for more than a decade. In September 2002, Markle Connecting for Health’s Steering Group agreed for the first time on the voluntary adoption of an initial set of data standards and communications protocols for the sharing of health care information. The U.S. government announced its adoption of these same standards in March 2003. Despite a pace and a set of goals that many thought hard to achieve, Markle Connecting for Health announced unprecedented progress in several key areas:
Other Phase I resources include the following:
In a July, 1999 open letter, Zoë Baird, President of the Markle Foundation, discussed the ways in which the digital revolution has begun transforming our economic, social, political and cultural life. “Although entrepreneurial energy will continue to drive change,” she wrote, “…the time is now, while the industry is still evolving, to move with the speed of the industry itself to help ensure that it meets public needs.” In health care, that means ensuring that information systems give individual patients a way of capturing their own health data, relating that data to the broader world of medical knowledge and doing all of that in an interactive environment that is secure and private. Markle Connecting for Health meshes with Markle’s history as catalyst, pioneer, experimenter, and builder of bridges between government, business, and academia.
The Markle Connecting for Health collaborative fits within the context of a rising tide of consumerism that is in the midst of reshaping the health care system into a new, more patient-centered form. In addition, it is part of the larger effort to build a national health information infrastructure, an idea first broached in an Institute of Medicine report on computer-based patient records in 1991. That vision has since been elaborated on by a variety of governmental and private groups. Since Markle Connecting for Health began its work in September of 2002, the importance of information exchange to health care safety and quality has been acknowledged and promoted by many prominent leaders of federal and state government, Congress, and the private sector.