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Nationwide Health Information Network's Free Open-Source Software

  • Published: 2009-07-08 (Revised/Updated 2011-10-08) : Author: Disabled World
  • Synopsis: Nationwide Health Information Network free software for improving information exchange between public and private health information technology systems.

Main Document

The Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) has announced that it is giving away free software with the goal of improving information exchange between public and private health information technology systems.

The free software is called, 'CONNECT,' and is being made available by the Federal Health Architecture, which is an E-Gov initiative being led by the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC).

Robert Kolodner, M.D., in relation to CONNECT stated, "This software will strengthen our health systems' ability to share data electronically and provide a wide range of benefits to citizens. Benefits include up-to-date records available at the point of care; enhanced population health screening; and being able to collect case research faster to facilitate disability claims, as demonstrated by transfers of information already underway between the Social Security Administration and MedVirginia, a regional health information organization."

The open-source software revolution is changing the world of information technology through the way people view software. No longer is software something to be perceived as either something that needs to be expensive in order to be worthy, nor is software to be seen as something to be specific to particular corporations or organizations. Companies are finding that shared software that is open-source can be used to share information that produces profits through other means. The benefits to society at large are justifying the release of software technologies that might otherwise have remained hoarded, or sold at costs prohibiting its use among large groups of people.

The ONC facilitated the development of the NHIN, which is tying together health information exchanges, pharmacies, integrated delivery networks, labs, providers, government health facilities, private payers, and additional stakeholders into a larger network. The NHIN is facilitating a mechanism through which systems that had been previously disconnected may begin connecting and sharing information. The NHIN is using interoperability standards that are recognized by the Secretary of Health and Human Services, along with those recognized by both public and private sectors.

CONNECT is built using open-source components, and is being made available under an open-source license. Innovation is being encouraged, and costs are being kept to a minimum. CONNECT will be available to the entire health care industry.

Organizations that have tested CONNECT and demonstrated its abilities include the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Social Security Administration, the Department of Defense, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Indian Health Service, and the National Cancer Institute - all of whom share information among themselves and with private organizations. February of this year found CONNECT being used for the first time in a production environment when the Social Security Administration started receiving patient information from MedVirginia through the NHIN.

Both public and private sector organizations can download CONNECT and use it. Organizations are encouraged to modify and expand CONNECT's capabilities, and share it.

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