Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Communicating to NHIN

Software has been made available to help public and private health information technology systems communicate to the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN). The Federal Health Architecture led by the Office of the National Coordinator for HIT is going to makes this free software CONNECT available at

NHIN will eventually tie together health information exchanges, integrated delivery networks, pharmacies, government health facilities and payers, labs, providers, private payers, and other stakeholders into a “network of networks.”

The CONNECT software resulted from a decision made by more than 20 federal agencies to connect their health IT systems to the NHIN. The agencies through the Federal health Architecture created CONNECT so that this shared software solution can be used by each agency.

The Department of Defense, the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service, and the National Cancer Institute have tested and demonstrated CONNECT’s ability to share data among one another and with private sector organizations. In February 2009, the CONNECT software gateway was used for the first time in a limited environment when SSA began receiving live patient data from MedVirginia through the NHIN.

Now both private and public sector organizations can download CONNECT and use it for their connectivity needs. As with other open source solutions, organizations are encouraged to modify and expand the capabilities of the software. Although the download is free, an organization opting to use the solution should be aware that their organization will be responsible for the costs associated with the implementation and maintenance in their own environment.