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Alphabet Soup - clarifying all of the different sub-groups from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology.

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Alphabet Soup




Are you aware of the national efforts underway in support of the interoperable exchange of healthcare information?  If you attended the fall WEDI conference, you may have learned about the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC) and the various subgroups that have been marching to their own beat.


Lesley Berkeyheiser, from N-Tegrity Solutions Group, helped construct the fall WEDI session clarifying content of the multi-group alphabet soup from ONC:  AHIC, HITSP, HISPC, CCHIT.  Each subgroup has a specific purpose.


AHIC is the national consumer focused group charged with creating “use case scenarios” relating to the world of health care.  With the use cases, you begin to understand how data traverses the health care channels from provider to insurer to consumer and others.


The use cases created by AHIC are then handed off to other groups such as HITSP.  HITSP’s job is to follow the scenarios in the use cases and break down the technical ways data is handed off.  Items such as similar ways to authenticate information, control access and synchronize time are reviewed and a “standard” way to handle the data is then set forth as a deliverable.


CCHIT concentrates on the vendor products that need to trade health care information.  This group of volunteers defines functionality points that software products (and vendors creating those products) should assure are available in their latest versions or offerings.  This step is critical in the interoperability picture so we can assure that all of our critical path systems and applications are “talking” the same language.


HISPC’s job is to review the variations of privacy laws across state boundaries and recommend a common or standard way for them to be blended.  Remember, if the state law is more stringent than HIPAA then it would preempt the federal rules.


In theory, once we truly reach interoperability of sharing data, the health care industry should be able to trade information much like the banking industry.  As a patient, we could have a test performed on the east coast in the morning and we could continue our care on the west cost in the afternoon with an entirely different provider being able to review the results of that test.


You may have heard that the Department of Health and Human Services awarded a large grant to LMI Consulting of McLean, VA and the Brookings Institution to develop AHIC 2.0.  The goal is to create a self-sustaining private sector organization that would make recommendations to DHHS on the adoption of health information technology. 


The AHIC successor organization just held its first public meeting on March 10.  Additional public meetings are scheduled for April 8 and May 30.  Click here to see the agenda of the March meeting.


Four transition work groups have been established and volunteers are being sought to work on these groups:

  • Organization and Governance (led by Dr. John Tooker, American College of Physicians)

  • Membership (led by Dr. Jonathan Perlin, Hospital Corporation of America)

  • Business Sustainability (led by John Glaser PhD, Partner’s Health Care Boston)

  • Transition from AHIC to AHIC 2 (chairman to be named)


For more information on ONC and the AHIC work you can review the respective web sites:  http://www.hhs.gov/healthit/onc/mission and http://www.ahicsuccessor.org/hhs/ahic.nsf/index.htm.



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