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