1. Sensmeier, Joyce MS, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS

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The National eHealth Collaborative (formerly AHIC Successor, Inc) was recently created to accelerate the development of a secure, interoperable, nationwide health information network. The NeHC, a public-private partnership, is a national forum for increasing the momentum of health IT adoption, through its broad base of stakeholders, to prioritize initiatives that directly address current obstacles to interoperability. Nurse informaticists are actively involved in this effort because of the efforts of the Alliance for Nursing Informatics. The leaders of ANI met with the AHIC successor leadership to provide an understanding of the important role that nurses play in the use, design, implementation, and evaluation of interoperable heath IT and EHR systems. Subsequently, Linda Fischetti, RN, MS, chief health informatics architect, Veterans Health Administration, was appointed as a member of the NeHC Board of Directors; Judy Murphy, RN, FACMI, FHIMSS, was appointed to the Value Case Committee; and Joyce Sensmeier, MS, RN-BC, CPHIMS, FHIMSS, was appointed to the Membership and Communications Committee. Through systematic research, nurses have developed classifications of nursing knowledge for standards of nursing language and documentation. Nurses understand the issues around user adoption, including usability challenges and opportunities. Nursing represents patient perspective and is the only profession that reaches across all care settings-through the continuum of care.


In 2009, the NeHC will implement a collaborative, national process for prioritizing interoperability initiatives that builds on the work of the American Health Information Community. The primary tool of this new process will be the Value Case-a proposal that identifies a specific information exchange, framework, or process for which standardization or best practice can add value and increase the adoption and effective use of health IT. Value Cases can be submitted by any stakeholder group and will go through a due diligence process that will determine whether it provides value to the consumer or overall community, whether it is feasible, and whether the healthcare community is ready to adopt the new standards-based technology.


The National eHealth Collaborative goals for the prioritization process are as follows:


* Identify breakthrough strategies to increase interoperability by prioritizing stakeholder-initiated Value Cases for national action.


* Provide more stakeholder control over which Value Cases and interoperability initiatives are prioritized and pursued.


* Place more emphasis on the value proposition of each proposed set of interoperability initiatives.



The NeHC recently published a document outlining its shared vision with the Healthcare Information Technology Standards Panel and the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology. This vision describes a health system in which all health information is electronic and delivered instantly and securely to individuals and their care providers when needed and capable of analysis for constant improvement and research. Nurses are participating in each of these initiatives, using their knowledge, skills, and experience to advance these shared goals.


The key elements identified by the NeHC to enable the secure and reliable exchange of electronic health information include the following:


* consistent standards to guide the creation, sharing, and updating of confidential individual health information within a secure national network;


* demonstration of the effectiveness of pilot interoperable systems that will form the backbone of secure, nationwide health information exchange;


* education and guidance for widespread adoption of electronic health records by health systems, health professionals, and individuals;


* a secure, interoperable network that enables immediate, consistent, protected access to relevant personal health information at the point of care, anywhere and anytime it is needed; and


* collaboration among disparate institutions and organizations to enable broad, secure, efficient, and seamless exchange of individual health information, leading to systemwide improvements in health outcomes, access, and quality of care, as well as reduced costs over time.



By engaging nurses and all healthcare stakeholders in a collaborative national process, the NeHC will drive the nation toward an interoperable health information network that will lead the way to better health for all Americans.