HHS named a trio of contract winners charged with advancing the department's aggressive information technology platform, including widespread implementation of electronic medical records. The organizations are the American National Standards Institute (ansi.org), for IT standards and harmonization; the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology (cchit.org), an alliance of well-known healthcare IT associations, for compliance certification; and the Health Information Security and Privacy Collaboration, formed by the Research Triangle Institute (rti.org), for privacy and security issues. The contracts are worth a total of $17.5 million. HHS delayed announcing the winners from a Sept. 30 deadline.
In a conference call with the media, David Brailer, HHS' national coordinator for health IT, said the contracts will create conditions necessary to accelerate use of EMRs, but the government will not set requirements locking doctors into specific technology. In developing standards, Brailer said, the underlying question will be "What do users want?" The largest barriers to EMRs are financial risk and technical know-how, and HHS' actions are aimed at reducing those barriers, he said. The contracts come a day after HHS proposed new regulations to allow hospitals to share EMR technology with doctors and a day before the first scheduled meeting of the 16-member American Health Information Community, which will steer development of a national health IT infrastructure. -- by Matthew DoBias and Andis Robeznieks