ANSI - American National Standards Institute
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AHIC Successor Invites Participation at Public Forum on the Future of Health IT Interoperability

Registration period open for first session on March 10 in Washington, DC

New York, Mar 03, 2008

A transition plan is now underway to shift the work of the American Heath Information Community (AHIC) to the private sector. The Community’s activities advance efforts to achieve President Bush’s goal for most Americans to have access to secure electronic health records by 2014.

The AHIC was formed in 2005 by Secretary Michael O. Leavitt of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and makes recommendations to the Secretary about how to accelerate adoption of interoperable health IT in a smooth, market-led way. From its inception, the AHIC was conceived to be an interim organization that would sunset by December 2008, giving way to a new, public-private partnership.

Secretary Leavitt has chaired the current AHIC since its formation; its membership comprises public and private sectors leaders who represent a broad spectrum of health care stakeholders committed to the advancement of health information technology.

One of AHIC’s first activities was to define several initial areas (known as “Use Cases”) with potential for early breakthroughs in the advancement of standards that will lead to interoperability:

  • electronic health records (e.g., the electronic delivery of lab results to a doctor),

  • biosurveillance (e.g., data networks supporting the rapid alert to a disease outbreak), and

  • consumer empowerment (e.g., giving patients the ability to manage and control access to their registration and medication histories).

Standards harmonization activities associated with these Use Cases was turned over to the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), a multi-disciplinary coordinating body charged with identifying the technical standards necessary to enable healthcare data interoperability. The Panel’s first set of recommendations and summary reports were delivered to AHIC in October 2006 and subsequently accepted by Secretary Leavitt for a one-year period of implementation testing. The Secretary approved HITSP’s Interoperability Specifications in January 2008.

HITSP is administered by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and a team of strategic partners. The Panel operates under a contract administered by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT).

During 2007 and the period of implementation testing, the HITSP continued its work by focusing on security and privacy constructs and a new set of Use Cases supplied by AHIC: Security and Privacy constructs, Emergency Responder-Electronic Health Record, Consumer Access to Clinical Information and Quality.

At its meeting on January 22, 2008, AHIC unanimously recommended this work to Secretary Leavitt. If the Secretary accepts the recommendations as reported, the requisite one-year period of review and testing for the new Interoperability Specifications will begin.

In August 2007, HHS issued a White Paper and, in December 2007, a Notice of Funding Availability (NoFA) for an entity or a set of entities that would “design, establish, and operate the American Health Information Community (AHIC) Successor.” Stage One of the process is to “support the design and establishment of the AHIC Successor within the first four months of the grant period,” which includes creating a new legal entity. Stage Two involves establishing the AHIC Successor, with a full transition to the Successor completed by late fall 2008. The NoFA and White Paper identify key areas of the technical aspects of health IT, such as accelerating and coordinating current AHIC interoperability initiatives, including harmonizing and certifying standards of health IT; prioritizing stakeholder requirements for nationwide health IT interoperability; advancing the harmonization of technology standards and policies; enabling the NHIN (a “network of networks”); and addressing certification.

Secretary Leavitt announced at a January 22 meeting of the AHIC, that LMI, teaming with the Brookings Institution, will lead the effort to design and establish AHIC 2.0.

The AHIC successor will be independent and sustainable and will bring together the best attributes and resources of public and private entities. This new public-private partnership will develop a unified approach to realize an effective, interoperable nationwide health information system that supports the health and well-being of the people of this country. The successor will be designed and ready for initial operation by spring 2008, with full transition from the AHIC to the successor to be completed by Fall 2008. Funds of up to $13 million will be available to the awardee over a two-year period.

LMI is a not-for-profit strategic consultancy committed to helping government leaders and managers reach decisions that make a difference and take actions that best serve the public interest.

The Brookings Institution is a non-profit public policy organization based in Washington, DC, whose mission is to conduct high-quality, independent research and, based on that research, to provide innovative, practical recommendations.

"This is a key milestone for the health IT movement," Secretary Leavitt remarked. "It ensures that the critical work of the AHIC will continue and prosper as interoperable health IT becomes a reality, and that the benefits of health IT reach all Americans."

LMI and the Brookings Institution have now announced a series of three public meetings on the transition of the American Health Information Community (AHIC) Successor. These meetings are intended for parties interested in the establishment and design of the Successor organization.

The first public meeting will be held from 9:00 am – 3:30 pm on Monday, March 10, 2008, at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, DC. The preliminary agenda indicates that topics will include:

  • describe in greater detail the activities involved in the creation of the AHIC Successor.

  • describe four key Planning Groups and ask for nominations.

  • discuss a series of “Listening Tour” events.

  • ask for input from a broad base of stakeholders.

Registration will be available from Wednesday, February 27 through close of business on Thursday, March 6 via the AHIC Successor website. Those who are unable to attend in person may also observe by webcast or listen by teleconference. The agenda, read-ahead materials, directions to the meeting, and webcast and teleconference information will be posted on the website.

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