The first round of the federal government's efforts to develop a Nationwide Health Information Network has been completed, and the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology is expected to release a report shortly on its efforts so far, as well as issue a request for proposals for the next round of contracts that could amount to around $22 million split between seven to 15 recipients.
In the first round, HHS awarded $18.6 million in late 2005 that was split between CSC, Accenture, IBM Corp. and Northrop Grumman Corp. to develop prototypes for an NHIN, and the companies delivered their proposals to the American Health Information Community, HHS' IT advisory group, in January.
"We were very pleased with the first year's work," said John Loonsk, ONCHIT's director of interoperability and standards. "Each of the four prototype architectures contributed something new and different. The intent is to take the best pieces of all them."
Loonsk said a report summarizing the results is "imminent," and could be released as early as later today or early Monday morning. The report will assess how the prototypes addressed the priorities of securely transmitting laboratory results directly into the electronic health-records systems of ordering physicians and other providers of care; transporting patient registration information and medication history; and biosurveillance applications.
"We are using the products of this year's work to guide the next round," Loonsk said.
The next round of work would be for trial implementations of health information exchanges that can show how such exchanges can securely move data and sustain themselves financially. Loonsk said he expects the contracts to be awarded to health information exchanges or regional health information organizations that are already operating or to efforts that have already hammered out governance, trust and buy-in concerns and are looking for a "systems integrator" that can provide technical and business support services.
An official request for proposals is expected to be issued shortly. Loonsk explained that a synopsis of the request was posted on the Federal Business Opportunities Web site on May 17, and a detailed, formal request for proposal usually gets released around two weeks after a synopsis is posted. -- by Andis Robeznieks / HITS staff writer