Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Open Source Tech is Here

“The key to any eHealth reform program is to provide information sharing across multiple agencies and eliminate the information silos that exist today. This will allow the government to reduce costs , have fewer errors, and better serve veterans, senior citizens, and the disabled” according to Bill Vass President and COO of Sun Federal.

Vass reports on his blog, that NHIN is the information highway for health data exchange, and that CONNECT a software solution enables federal agencies to securely link their existing systems to NHIN. More than 20 organizations collaborated to build CONNECT through the Federal Health Architecture (FHA), and as a result, agencies are heading towards interoperability.

It’s important to know that FHA built the CONNECT gateway software from open-source code and used Sun’s entire Open Source middleware stack as the foundation. The solution was jointly developed by federal agencies, yet it will be deployed individually at the agency level.

Vass stresses that the benefits included cost reductions for each agency and taxpayer savings, IT consistency and compatibility across multiple agencies, decreased deployment time, and a secure system.

The history and the speed for the development of the CONNECT initiative went from concept to reality in 2008. In March 2008, FHA awarded a contract to develop the CONNECT solution. By September 2008, three agencies were already demonstrating the ability to share information with the private sector through NHIN. The number of participating agencies grew to six for the December 2008 demonstrations, but with plans to have those six agencies participate in NHIN by the end of 2009.

The CONNECT Gateway system will be available to the public by March 2009. The system includes core services to locate patients at other health organizations within NHIN, request and receive patient documents, and record transactions for patients and others.

There are a number of opportunities for federal agencies to use the Gateway. The 2009 development plans for the system include:

  • Collecting patient status as the patient moves to various care settings
  • Providing Personal Health Records complete with information from federal and commercial systems
  • Helping to combat fraud and waste
  • Improving coordination of benefits with other payer organization
  • Providing onsite care for patients during disasters and other public health emergencies
  • Supporting data collection to use to analyze potential adverse events associated with drugs and medical equipment
  • Helping to establish local networks among community health clinics
  • Providing anonymous bulk test data for pandemic and bio terrorism analysts

For more information, go to the Bill Vass Blog at http://blogs.sun.com/BVass.