Health IT contracts coming

Leavitt 500 Day Plan

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The Department of Heath and Human Services started to develop the foundation for a national health care information technology infrastructure today by releasing two contract notices. One notice is for development of a nationwide health information architecture and the other is for a process for certifying electronic health records.

The Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONCHIT) wants management consulting assistance to develop a process to harmonize standards. Those standards would facilitate interoperability among health care software applications, particularly systems for e-health records.

In a related development, officials at the national coordinator's office and the Agency for Healthcare Quality and Research are seeking consulting services to help evaluate state laws and health care provider business policies that could pose challenges to the development of an automated health information exchange. Officials at the two agencies said they expect to issue 40 contracts for this work and anticipate making the awards by Sept. 30.

Those planned solicitations dovetail with HHS Secretary Mike Leavitt's 500-day plan for the department, which Leavitt released earlier this month. The plan calls for the agency to develop a national effort to "develop, set and certify health information technology standards and outcomes for interoperability, privacy and data exchange."

ONCHIT officials said they plan to award six contracts in fiscal 2006 for the National Health Information Network architecture and one three-year contract with a one-year option for the certification process by the end of September. They added that they plan to award one contact with the same structure for the health care IT standards consulting contract.

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