Professional News
HHS Seed Money Helps Build Health-Information Networks
Psychiatric News
Volume 43 Number 8 page 7-26

Though the diffusion of electronic medical records is happening more slowly than anticipated, there are some concrete developments by public and private agencies to move toward the goal of a national health information network.

In March Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt announced the award of contracts totaling $22.5 million to nine health information exchanges (HIEs) to begin trial implementations of the Nationwide Health Information Network.

HIEs are community networks that securely connect electronic health records for providers and patients.

The following organizations received the awards:

Robert Plovnick, M.D., director of APA's Department of Quality Improvement and Psychiatric Services, said the project will put into practice some of the theoretical work on the National Health Information network that has been under way for several years.

"This work will include demonstrating health information exchange within and between these organizations," he told Psychiatric News. "The end goal is to make clinical information available where it is needed, even if it is outside of the setting or geographic area where it was originally generated, subject to patient preferences and other considerations."

In related news, the government last month announced a project to offer financial incentives to primary care physicians using electronic medical records (EMRs).

Over a five-year period, financial incentives will be provided to as many as 1,200 physician practices that use certified EMRs to improve quality as measured by their performance on specific clinical-quality measures.

Total payments under the demonstration for all five years may be up to $58,000 per physician or $290,000 per practice, according to the Department of Health and Human Services.

In addition, the following organizations and agencies continue to be involved in trying to make the national health information network a reality:

Information on electronic health records is posted at<www.psych.org/ehr>; a directory of HIEs is posted at<http://ccbh.ehealthinitiative.org/profiles/default.mspx>.; information about the EHR demonstration project is posted at<www.cms.hhs.gov/DemoProjectsEvalRpts/downloads/2008_Electronic_Health_Records_Demonstration.pdf>.

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