HHS releases health IT contract plans

The Health and Human Services Department has released three presolicitation notices for the development of a nationwide health information network architecture and a process for interoperability of electronic health records.

The department also will seek an assessment of state privacy and security policies that impede exchange of health information among states and organizations.

HHS' Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONCHIT), led by David Brailer, plans to develop prototypes and operational models for a Nationwide Health Information Network Architecture that will enable health information to be shared electronically. The health IT czar's office anticipates awarding up to six contracts for one year with one one-year option. HHS anticipates awarding the contract in fiscal 2006.

ONCHIT requires development of an electronic health record compliance certification and inspection process, which will include the infrastructure components through which electronic health records interoperate. That contract, to be awarded by Sept. 30, will have a duration of three years with one one-year option.

In another notice, Brailer's office seeks a process to harmonize standards to support widespread interoperability among health care software applications, particularly electronic health record systems. HHS will award a contract for three years with one one-year option by Sept. 30.

Some states have more stringent privacy and security requirements for health information than what is required under the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. ONCHIT and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality will seek an assessment of state laws and organizational business policies for privacy and security practices that pose challenges to automated health information exchange and determine how to coordinate them. HHS expects to award up to 40 contracts for one year with the potential for one one-year option by Sept. 30.

About the Author

Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.

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