Tuesday, April 7, 2009

CONNECT Helps Make Health IT Interoperable

The Federal Health Architecture, an initiative of the Office of the National Coordinator for Information Technology (ONC) has released CONNECT, free software which will allow existing health IT systems to connect to the the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN).

The NHIN will serve as the "network of networks," allowing previously non-interoperable health IT systems to connect and share data with each other. Standards for the NHIN were developed by the Secretary of Health and Human Services based on public and private interoperability specifications. The ONC is currently working on the legal framework of information sharing over the NHIN.

"This software will strengthen our health systems' ability to share data electronically and provide a wide range of benefits to citizens," said Robert Kolodner, M.D., National Coordinator for Health Information Technology. "Benefits include up-to-date records available at the point of care; enhanced population health screening; and being able to collect case research faster to facilitate disability claims, as demonstrated by transfers of information already underway between the Social Security Administration and MedVirginia, a regional health information organization."

More than 20 federal agencies will use CONNECT to access the NHIN, including the Department of Defense, Department of Veterans Affairs, Social Security Administration, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Organizations can download CONNECT for free at: http://www.connectopensource.org/. Although the download is free, organizations will be responsible for the implementation and maintenance costs of using the program.

Source: Department of Health and Human Services

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