Wednesday, September 2, 2009: 10:00 AM
In the development of the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN), the Department of Health and Human Services has adopted the process of health information technology (HIT) standardization as central to its strategy of addressing the issue of healthcare data integration, interchange and information systems interoperability. Various national entities have been created to carry out the HIT standardization efforts. There is a need for public health to participate in these entities in a coordinated manner, so that the standards developed for clinical electronic health record systems under a NHIN can also serve the needs of public health information systems used in various public health programs, therefore, building interoperable, standard-based, re-usable and robust public health information infrastructure. With the input from national public health leaders we identified four barriers that preclude participation of local and state public health practitioners in HIT standardization entities, such as: (1) lack of awareness for the need to participate in the HIT standardization efforts/entities; (2) limited ability for local and state public health practitioners to be involved in the national efforts as they serve particular jurisdictions; (3) lack of technical knowledge and informatics skills to participate; and (4) lack of funding to support basic participation, such as travel to meetings. To address these barriers, we developed a Business Case on the Role of Public Health in the National Health IT Standardization. The Business Case is aimed to raise awareness of public health leadership and HIT decision makers on the critical role of public health in the national HIT standardization process; provide solution options to address barriers for participation; and propose the business plan for the implementation of identified solutions. The Business Case is targeted at public health leadership at the local, state and federal levels, as well as HIT decisions makers at all levels of government.
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