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Is the National eHealth Collaborative still necessary?

I’ve been wondering the last few days if the National eHealth Collaborative still serves a useful purpose. This group, you may remember, is the private-sector outgrowth of the American Health Information Community, the public-private board set up by the Bush administration to advise the Department of Health and Human Services on various health IT issues.

The plan all along was to spin AHIC off into the private sector, and that happened in 2008. With the advent of the Obama administration, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act in 2009 set up the Health IT Policy Committee and the Health IT Standards Committee as official advisory panels, consisting of leaders from both government and the private sector. And in the private sector, numerous groups, notably the eHealth Initiative, had been well established before NeHC came along.

Do we really need a group like NeHC? For that matter, the eHealth Initiative seems less relevant than it was, say 3-4 years ago.

February 7, 2011 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

OK haters, here’s your chance

Those of you who have been critical of the EHR certification process and other aspects of national health IT policy have a chance to make some of that policy. Here’s a solicitation that just went out from the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology:

DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES

Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology

HIT Standards Committee and HIT Policy Committee Nomination Letters

ACTION: Notice on letters of nomination.

SUMMARY: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Act), Pub. L. 111-5 amends the Public Health Service Act (PHSA) to add new sections 3002 and 3003. The new section 3003 of the PHSA establishes the HIT Standards Committee to make recommendations to the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology on standards, implementation specifications, and certification criteria for the electronic exchange and use of health information for purposes of health information technology adoption. The HIT Standards Committee members are to be appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services with the National Coordinator taking a leading role. Membership of the HIT Standards Committee should at least reflect the following categories of stakeholders and will include other individuals: providers, ancillary healthcare workers, consumers, purchasers, health plans, technology vendors, researchers, relevant Federal agencies, and individuals with technical expertise on health care quality, privacy and security, and on the electronic exchange and use of health information.

In addition, we also seek nominations to the HIT Policy Committee (established by the new section 3002 of the PHSA), which makes recommendations to the National Coordinator on the implementation of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure. The HIT Policy Committee will consist of at least 20 members. Three of these members will be appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services. Of the three members, one must be a representative of the Department of Health and Human Services and one must be a public health official. If, 45 days after the enactment of the Act, an official authorized under the Act to make appointments to the HIT Policy Committee has failed to make an appointment(s), the Act authorizes the Secretary of HHS to make such appointments. The Department of Health and Human Services is consequently accepting nominations for the HIT Policy Committee.

New section 3008 of the PHSA allows the Secretary to recognize the NeHC (if modified to be consistent with the requirements of section 3002 and 3003 of the Act and other federal laws) as either the HIT Policy Committee or the HIT Standards Committee. At this time, the Department of Health and Human Services is evaluating options regarding the National eHealth Collaborative and its role in relation to those Committees.

For appointments to either the HIT Standards Committee or the HIT Policy Committee, I am announcing the following: Letters of nomination and resumes should be submitted by March 16, 2009 to ensure adequate opportunity for review and consideration of nominees prior to appointment of members.

ADDRESS: Office of the National Coordinator, Department of Health and Human Services, 200 Independence Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20201, Attention: Judith Sparrow, Room 729D. Email address: HIT_FACA_nominations@hhs.gov. Please indicate in your letter or email to which Committee your nomination belongs.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: ONC/HHS, Judith Sparrow, (202) 205-4528.

Authority: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Pub. L. 111-5), section 13101.

Dated: March 9, 2009

So if you’re feeling left out, go ahead and nominate yourself.

March 10, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.

AHIC Successor now National eHealth Collaborative—sans nurses

The group once known informally as AHIC 2.0 and later AHIC Successor finally has a name of its own: the National eHealth Collaborative. This completes the privatization of the American Health Information Community (AHIC), a public-private advisory board to the secretary of Health & Human Services.

Leadership positions for 2009 remain as announced a month ago:

Other board members include:

The panel also includes three federal liaisons, National HIT Coordinator Robert Kolodner, M.D., and representatives of the HHS and VA secretaries. Obviously, the latter two will change on Jan. 20.

That seems like a pretty impressive roster, but remember the controversy about the Google Health Advisory Council a year and a half ago? The Internet giant came under fire for not including any nurses, medical librarians and even radiologists. While it’s nice to see a behavioral health specialist on the National eHealth Collaborative, there are no nurses or medical librarians anywhere to be found here, either. I didn’t bother to look up the specialties of the many doctors on this panel, but isn’t it incongruous to overlook nurses and librarians?

For what it’s worth, several board members were to meet today with the Obama transition team. Perhaps someone has an inkling of who might be appointed to head CMS or the Veterans Health Administration? That’s what I’m waiting for.

UPDATE, Jan 11: I’ve just been informed that nurses are in fact on this board. I’m told that Laura Adams is a nurse, though her bio does not seem to reflect that. Also, Linda Fischetti, who I know is an RN, is the non-voting liaison to NeHC from the VA. Still, it does seem like nursing might be a little under-represented, given the field’s overall importance in healthcare.

January 9, 2009 I Written By

I'm a freelance healthcare journalist, specializing in health IT, mobile health, healthcare quality, hospital/physician practice management and healthcare finance.