New York - Two technology providers each released a Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) prototype in one week—first Armonk, N.Y.-based IBM and now Accenture. Accenture demonstrated its prototype solution for a fully integrated health information system at the 3rd Nationwide Health Information Network Forum on Thursday, Jan. 25, 2005, in Washington, D.C., where IBM also demonstrated its prototype. The solution shows that patient data can be extracted from disparate information systems and converted to a common format that enables sharing among physician offices, medical laboratories, hospitals and other clinical settings. 

Insurance companies are stakeholders in the NHIN, which will allow patients to manage their own health care records, move the records when they change jobs and share the records with insurers when they buy a policy. As reported in INN in December, two stakeholders, America's Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) and the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, have agreed to support a common set of standards for the network, according to published reports.

The Accenture prototype, which is designed to work with legacy clinical systems, is a step toward building an interoperable, standards-based network. In November 2005, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) awarded a contract to Bermuda-based Accenture to develop a prototype network for secure information sharing among three healthcare communities.

The prototype introduces common language and data standards and integrates information across the entire healthcare system at the national, regional and provider levels. It is designed to enable a single view of a patient's medical information, drawn from multiple databases, as one combined electronic health record. According to Accenture, this approach, which allows the industry to build on existing investments in legacy provider systems, will enable the rapid implementation of a secure infrastructure to facilitate data sharing.

According to Accenture, among the benefits are:

  • improved care delivery through access to a "single view" patient record drawn from multiple provider systems
  • enhanced national monitoring of healthcare trends and identification of potential epidemics, which can give researchers a head start in responding to bio-threats, pandemics or natural disasters and ultimately in discovering and developing new disease therapies
  • advanced regional healthcare provision planning due to more advanced clinical research, public health monitoring and effective care management

"Looking to the future, we see information technology as a critical component of our ability to coordinate and deliver high quality care to patients," says Carol Steltenkamp, M.D., chief medical information officer, University of Kentucky HealthCare. "Through our work with the Accenture team on the NHIN prototype, we've taken a huge step toward helping patients and their caregivers make informed decisions at the point of care."

"This prototype represents a flexible, pragmatic approach to facilitating data sharing among the wide variety of IT systems used by healthcare organizations across the nation," says Brian Kelly, M.D., a partner in Accenture's Health & Life Sciences practice. "All healthcare providers, regardless of whether they belong to a regional healthcare information exchange or not, now have a model that is flexible enough for them to adopt the technology standards required to participate in a nationwide network."

Source: Accenture and INN archives

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Digital Insurance content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access