How we get to the Health Internet

How we get to the Health Internet

Summary: The Health Internet is coming on fast. Two open source projects are creating the standards industry will follow and the resulting change may be as sudden as the Web being spun.


Fred Trotter has a great summary out about how we get from today's health IT mess to a real Health Internet.

It's not a long trip.

It's really based on two open source projects:

  • CONNECT, which defines interoperability standards for exchanging health data, and
  • DIRECT, which defines network standards for moving the data.

How do you get on to these networks? Well, the meaningful use guidelines for that sweet, sweet stimulus cash include interoperability requirements, like those used in CONNECT. So it's not just cash, it's standards. And I've written about the rapid progress of DIRECT before.

A trial of all this has already begun.

With a secure connection you should be able to e-mail your doctor, and they should not fear e-mailing you. Faxing will go away. You will be able to have your records downloaded to a secure location you control. And when a hospital or another doctor needs your record, the doctor's office should be able to get it to them.

It's a problem with lots of layers. Identity. VPN design. File standards. Interfaces. All of which have to work on top of the  IP protocol.

Oh, and Fred notes that NHIN no longer stands for National Health Information Network. It stands for Nationwide Health Information Network.

That's because the bureaucrats who came up with the acronym failed to do a complete trademark search. Turns out a Fort Worth company holds the old trademark for their e-prescribe system.

That's not a big deal.

What is a big deal is that the Health Internet is coming on fast. Right now my regular doctor can get prescriptions to my pharmacist and records to the hospital where he has privileges. When my wife needed some imaging done recently, she just showed up at the right time, handed in her insurance card, and was out within minutes.

As that network is linked to other networks via NHIN standards, as the people who build networks and software come to adopt the CONNECT and DIRECT projects into their software, change will come swiftly.

It's easy to be cynical about something that has been delayed a long time, but that's the thing about computing. It doesn't work and doesn't work until it all works, then suddenly it works and we don't have to think about it.

Figure five years at the outside.

Topics: IT Employment, CXO, Health, Legal

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  • As long as private for-profit healthcare exists

    Your private health data is at risk, and it is a great liability to you the individual. Even though it's against the law, there are companies who research your medical history for everything from hiring/firing decisions to deciding how much to charge for insurance and services. The new systems will only make it worse.
    terry flores
    • RE: How we get to the Health Internet

      @terry flores Only if incentives remain for employers and insurers to misuse that data. Your nightmare does come true if health reform is rolled back, because the old market incentives lie in denying coverage in order to keep profits high.
      • RE: How we get to the Health Internet

        @DanaBlankenhorn Mr. Blankenhorn, your faith in the government's ability to solve complex problems such as healthcare is astounding. Can you provide one example where the government has been able to cost effectively improve the quality of something, while making it easier for people to access, and providing the right incentives for ethical and fair usage... oh, and without enslaving people? <br><br>Since you seemingly understand incentives so well, what incentives does the government have when it comes to healthcare? Not intentions now, don't get that confused with incentives. I would love to hear your explanation/understanding of the incentives of government healthcare reform.
  • RE: How we get to the Health Internet

    Not that way.
    • RE: How we get to the Health Internet

      @james347 Care to elaborate? What way, then?
  • RE: How we get to the Health Internet

    " Faxing will go away"

    That is long overdue. I think it is absurd that fax machines are used so much in the health care industry. I shake my head every time I see it being used.



    "enslaving people"? Really? Your overblown rhetoric does your argument no good.
  • nbjme

    You're soaking in it. This medium you're using. Created by the government, its standards developed through government action. And I think it's a pretty good thing.

    I was covering telecomms in the early 1990s. I well remember how the private telephone companies were so obsessed over who would pay how much to who that they were unwilling to deliver new network capacity. Then the government came in with its support of TCP/IP, and the rule that you first pass the data, then argue about the money. Change came.

    There have been many, many many such examples throughout American history. Canals, railroads, electric and phone utilities, Interstate highways. All either directed by or funded by government (sometimes both) making our economy the largest in the world.

    Ideology that ignores facts becomes useless.