Tuesday, February 17, 2009

National eHealth Collaborative Launched

by Kate Blenner, Program Analyst, FasterCures

The national entity charged with prioritizing standards for health IT launched in January, and FasterCures is serving on a parallel effort to ensure that clinical research applications of health IT will remain a top priority to it and other health IT regulators.

On January 8, the successor to the American Health Information Community (AHIC) was relaunched as the National eHealth Collaborative (NeHC). AHIC originated as a 2005 federal advisory board to the Office of the National Coordinator; in its new iteration as the not-for-profit NeHC, it will operate as a public-private partnership to set priorities for IT standardization through its diverse stakeholder membership.

A key initiative of the new NeHC will be setting national priorities for HIT via analysis of ‘value cases’, distinct from ‘use cases’ in that they present cost-benefit analysis of adoption in the context of monetary, business, societal, and technological risk. NeHC is expected to open a call for value case submissions this month.

The concept of a value case should be familiar if you have been following the world of patient safety and care quality improvement, where “making the business case” for any improvements in healthcare delivery systems is nearly the norm. An ample body of literature and reports exists as templates for health IT value cases of established care processes and delivery channels. But how does one anticipate the value and risks of an integrated system that connects healthcare, clinical research, and translational research information-a system that is currently just a gleam in the eye of biomedical research advocates?

FasterCures is part of a working group hoping to do just that. The American National Standards Institute has formed the EHR Clinical Research Value Case Workgroup to develop value cases for interoperability between electronic health records and clinical research applications. We look forward to working with the Workgroup, NeHC, and other leading entities to ensure that an interoperable health IT system interfaces with the clinical and translational research world and is one less barrier to expedient delivery of new discoveries to patients.

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