Well, the fizz is long gone from the RHIO. It's been replaced by the Heath Information Organization, or HIO, and the Health Information Exchange, or HIE.
No, NHIN will still be around. But the government is going to be using another name for it.
One of the earliest iterations of a candidate replacement identifier surfaced Oct. 20 in a presentation by John Lumpkin, the chairman of the governance work group of the Health Information Technology Policy Committee.
Lumpkin's coinage is the NW-HIN, which stands for nationwide health information network. That's a phrase used three times in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, the stimulus law with all the billions in incentive payments for the purchase and meaningful use of electronic health-records systems.
Why the switch to NW-HIN? At deadline, no one at ONC will own up to the likely reason—at least not on the record. But a software company in Fort Worth, Texas, beat the government to the NHIN name by more than a decade. The National Health Information Network and NHIN are both registered service marks, with NHIN being in use in commerce since 1995, according to records with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.
According its company history, National Health Systems launched a subsidiary called the National Health Information Network in 1991.The parent company is probably best known for its PDX line of software for chain drugstores, but it also contributed work on a prescription transmission standard to the National Council for Prescription Drug Programs, which was used as a basis for the NCPDP Script standard. No one from the company responded by deadline for comment.
NHIN—the NHS subsidiary—remains an active subsidiary as a purveyor of claims processing and other applications and services to the pharmacy industry.
Switching from the sleek and easy, tongue-pleasing NHIN to the clunky and tongue-twisting NW-HIN is going to be a problem. It also may mean changing NHIN Direct and NHIN Connect, the names of two projects to develop software to the national network.
In an e-mail statement, Peter Garrett, ONC's director of communications, made no mention of the Patent Office mark issue. Garrett said merely that ONC is "in the process of developing a new brand identity for the nationwide health information network."
"ONC's goal for the new name is to continue to convey the program's key message of enabling the secure exchange of interoperable electronic health information over the Internet," Garrett said. "We are also working on a communications plan for the renaming and anticipate that we will announce the new name of the program by the end of 2010 or very early 2011."