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News of the Day ... in Perspective


National health infrastructure under development; comments needed.

A national system of electronic medical records has long been envisioned by the federal government, despite the fact that such systems have not been successful in other countries. After investing more than 30 million euros each, Sweden and the Netherlands discontinued their systems.

Public hearings on the National Health Information Infrastructure were held most recently on Jan. 5 and 6 by the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics.

The Department of Health and Human Services states four main purposes for a National Health Information Network (NHIN):

  • To inform clinical practice (with data from electronic health records);
  • To interconnect clinicians so they can exchange health information using advanced and secure electronic communications;
  • To personalize care with consumer-based health records and better information for consumers;
  • To improve public health through advanced bio-surveillance methods and streamlined data collection.

The development of a unique patient health identifier to link records has been stalled for several years by legislation to defund implementation introduced by Congressman Ron Paul (R-TX).

Many consumer advocates have expressed concerns about the effect on patient privacy and are urging citizens to take advantage of an HHS invitation for comments from the general public. Comments are due Jan. 18.

Additional information:

AAPS alert, with information on how to submit comments.

Testimony before the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics

“Electronic Medical Records,” AAPS News, December 2004.

News of the Day Archive