The Health Internet – Government Looking to Expand The National Health Information Network For Public Use
Posted Oct 31 2009 11:01pm
The National Health Information Network already exists and to date has never been tested for the public to use, but the move to shift all of healthcare to it’s own network is a big one, so I would guess you could think of a separate entire entity here, used for healthcare information only. The government has had several Code-A_Thons” for developers to write code and create new algorithms. I wrote about this a short while back. Doctors from the military currently use the network as well as Social Security to exchange medical record information.
“The November Code-A-Thon will be held on the West Coast and has moved to a two-day format! Portland State University and Oregon State University are co-hosting the event to be held on the Portland State University campus at the University Place Hotel.”
The Connect site has documents on how to use the open source software to create a Health Information Exchange, so again perhaps we will eventually see the health record exchanges as we know them today, moving to the Health Internet when it can be retooled for use outside the US military. The open source code can be downloaded by anyone. BD
Hoping to provide the backbone for a grand plan to put the nation's medical records online, federal officials have been quietly retooling an obscure government data-sharing service into a robust new Health Internet.
The concept has drawn intense interest from technology firms, including Microsoft and Google, which are scrambling to find new--and profitable--uses for digital medical records and the cyber health-care services they are starting to spawn.
Aneesh Chopra, President Obama's chief technology officer, and Todd Park, who holds a similar position with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, previewed the plan late last month to an enthusiastic audience of health information technology professionals in Boston.
The administration hopes the Health Internet could be in operation by early next year and that its technological infrastructure will encourage millions of people to more readily exchange their medical records with doctors and hospitals online. Technical barriers and concerns about privacy have so far kept most people's health data in closed networks or paper files.
Like the Internet itself, the existing health data-sharing service -- called the National Health Information Network -- was created for government use, in this case to allow doctors to exchange medical information from veterans' and military hospitals as well as for speeding up processing of Social Security disability claims. Though it's never been tested for wide public use, officials expect to quickly retool it to do so.
The system relies on open-source software called CONNECT, which was developed by more than 20 federal agencies to share health information. Officials have spent millions of dollars on the system, but expect to adapt it for public use at little additional cost.
Microsoft, which makes personal health records software called Health Vault, agrees. Google has a similar free product called Google Health. Both firms in recent months have announced partnerships with online health care ventures ranging from pharmacy services to companies that deliver medical care by videoconference.
Earlier this month, Google announced a deal with Florida-based MDLiveCare, which offers doctor consultations by video, phone or email. The company charges a monthly membership fee and $35 for a doctor consultation, according to its Web site. Patients can use Google Health to send their records back and forth to these doctors and other health-care providers. Microsoft has a similar arrangement with a company called AmericanWell.
Sean Nolan, chief architect and general manager of Microsoft's Health Solutions Group, said the Health Internet offers a "really great opportunity" for consumers to assume more responsibility for their health.
Microsoft expects this digital revolution to both improve the quality of medical care and "make it a ton more efficient. Both can happen at the same time," Nolan said. As an example, he said that massive amounts of data collected from patients can help health officials spot adverse drug reactions more quickly, thus saving lives.
He acknowledged that personal health record firms might sell patient data to drug companies and other health researchers, but said that Microsoft would never do so without the patient's consent. A Microsoft fact sheet on HealthVault says: "We do not use your health information for commercial purposes unless we ask and you clearly tell us we may."