Armonk, N.Y. - Framing it as flexible roadmap for insurance companies, governmental regulatory agencies and other healthcare related organizations and researchers, IBM unveiled its technology foundation for the Nationwide Health Information Network (NHIN) yesterday.  The technology is designed to enable secure access to healthcare data and real time information sharing and exchange of healthcare data among physicians, patients, hospitals, laboratories and pharmacies, and other stakeholders, regardless of where the medical data is located. As reported in INN in December, two such 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. Under contract to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (ONC), IBM developed a standards-based system, based on a service oriented architecture (SOA) to connect information that allows for a secure nationwide healthcare information exchange across widely dispersed healthcare communities. The IBM solution will bring patients and clinicians one step closer to electronic medical records and a more efficient, flexible and cost effective healthcare delivery system, says the Armonk, N.Y. company. IBM's NHIN prototype is installed and operational in three healthcare marketplaces and allows seven hospitals and 24 physicians located in Research Triangle/Pinehurst, N.C.; Guilford and Rockingham Counties, N.C./Danville, Va. and Mid-Hudson Valley, New York to securely access and exchange medical and personal health data, regardless of underlying applications and locations of data.  Central to the IBM NHIN prototype effort is the use of important interoperability standards for healthcare published by the Health Information Technology Standards Panel (HITSP), key SOA interoperability principles and advanced data management algorithms developed by IBM scientists. In addition, IBM software and IBM's Health Information Exchange, used to collect and share health data electronically from an exchange platform, will help physicians access and view a patient's electronic medical records even if those records originate from disparate systems in multiple locations, reports the company. Also, the use of the IHE Framework (Integrating the Healthcare Enterprise) sponsored by the Electronic Records Vendors Association and the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) played a major factor in allowing participants to support this initiative.  IBM will demonstrate its prototype NHIN Architecture during The Third Nationwide Health Information Network forum to be held Jan. 25 - 26 in Washington D.C.   Sources: IBM, INN archives   

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